Britain slashes top stake on gambling machines to 2 pounds

Marco Green
May 17, 2018

The decision follows complaints that the machines, which enable people to bet up to 100 pounds ($135) every 20 seconds on electronic games such as roulette, were highly addictive and had led to gamblers building up big losses.

The Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) warned the move will be a "hammer blow" to High Street bookmakers and threaten thousands of jobs.

"When faced with the choice of halfway measures or doing everything we can to protect vulnerable people, we have chosen to take a stand", said culture minister Matt Hancock in today's statement.

The impact of the announcement was no doubt softened by the news earlier this week regarding U.S. online sports betting, with big-name betting brands already making moves to offset any potential losses with significant gains in the States.

Mr Millar, who holds an annual conference in Cardiff on problem gambling, called FOBTs a "public health menace which ruin people's lives".

"We recognise the potential impact on jobs in the betting industry and will work closely together to respond to this decision".

Ladbrokes Coral, bought by GVC for close to 4 billion pounds late a year ago, operates close to 3,500 high street betting shops across the United Kingdom, employing over 25,000 people.

Betting firm William Hill, makes just over half its retail revenues from FOBTs.

Bookmaker William Hill, which generates just over half its retail revenues from FOBTs, described the United Kingdom government's decision as "unprecedented" and warned that 900 of its shops could become loss-making, potentially leading to job losses.

Bookmaker William Hill said it will see a reduction in total gaming net revenue of 35%-45% following the move.

Changes to the FOBT's maximum limit will need parliamentary approval.

Kenneth Alexander, CEO of GVC Holdings, said: "Although we are ultimately disappointed with the outcome of the Triennial Review, it is a decision we accept".

Shares in all three fell in early London trading on Thursday, with William Hill hit hardest.

The government's action, which marks the biggest regulatory change in the United Kingdom gambling industry since rules were liberalised in 2005, was welcomed by charities, the church and opposition politicians.

But the shift to £2 was backed by council leaders, church groups, charities, gambling campaigners and MPs from across the political spectrum.

The Government said it will fund the crackdown through an increase in remote gaming duty.

Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson said he was "absolutely delighted" by the decision, which he said would "help alleviate some of the awful misery caused by problem gambling in Britain".

"Increasing an already heavy tax burden will clearly have an impact on our plans to create new jobs in the North of England in the years to come", Flint said.

- The Gambling Commission to toughen up protections around online gambling including stronger age verification rules and proposals for customer spending limits.

A multimillion-pound advertising campaign promoting responsible gambling, supported by the industry and GambleAware, will be launched later this year, it added.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER