May Day! Industry braces itself for incoming FOBTs £2 cut

The betting industry’s regulatory agenda has reached a speculative overdrive, as concerns grow as to how and when the UK government will move to implement its anticipated £2 cut on FOBTs machine wagering levels.

The polemic subject matter of FOBTs wagering has seen contrasting news stories published this weekend by multiple sources, each specifying potential different outcomes to the government’s long-awaited judgement.

Bill Barber of the Racing Post details that the government may move for a further delay of its FOBTs judgement, due to tensions between ministers and the Department for Digital, Media, Culture & Sport (DCMS), the policy body overseeing UK gambling laws.

UK Pensions Secretary Esther McVey has called for DCMS to pull-back its £2 judgement, citing the widespread negative impacts that the drastic cut would have on the UK betting sector, its employees and wider stakeholders.

The Sunday Times, reports that UK betting leadership has urged the government to implement a ‘one-year transition period’ for retail bookmakers to adjustment to new market conditions.

On Saturday the BBC published a personal comment by William Hill Chief Executive Philip Bowcock urging the government to rethink its position on FOBTs wagering to a “more proportionate response”.

“Government cannot avoid the loss of High Street jobs where businesses are failing. But they can avoid a decision – not based on evidence – that will put thousands of people out of work” Bowcock  told the BBC

Supporting Bowcock, William Hill’s new Group Chairman, Roger Devlin detailed to CityAm and The Daily Telegraph that the FTSE bookmaker’s governance had written a letter to PM Theresa May warning of ‘catastrophic consequences’ should the government implement its ‘unnecessary and evidence lacking’ decision.

Devlin, a figurehead for UK retail and leisure sectors, detailed severe highstreet impacts which could cost the UK Treasury around £1 billion in income, placing some 20,000 industry jobs at risk.

Despite, the reported splits in Parliament, the majority of news sources maintain that DCMS leader Matt Hancock will likely deliver the government’s £2 judgement this May (possibly this week).

To date, betting stakeholders have waited more than a whole year for the government to deliver its pending triennial industry judgement on FOBTs and advertising standards, a matter that was originally meant to be decided last April 2017.

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