Government to announce new betting restrictions

The UK government is expected to introduce new mandatory measures for bookmakers today as it looks to stave off pressure from Labour on the gambling industry. Among the changes will be a tightening up on advertising, a shift in the planning laws to put betting shops in their own category and the enshrinement of the recent ABB machine code into Gambling Commission regulations.

The unexpected change that has been touted overnight is the requirement for bookmakers to ‘intervene’ if they wish to spend £50 at time on a FOBT gaming machine. It has been speculated that this could take the form of requiring such customers either to set up accounts, talk to staff or pay for £50-plus spins by card. The good news for the industry is that the government has not caved into the demands of the lobbying group pushing for a reduction in stakes to £2 from a maximum of £100. According to the FT, average stakes in leading bookmakers such as William Hill are £7-£8.

The change to planning laws will take betting shops out of the A2 usage class and into a ‘suis generis’ class all of its own, meaning that any new betting shops will have to go through another layer of planning permission at the local council level.

The betting industry showed that it had considerable support this week by delivering a petition containing 1m signatures to Downing Street, requesting that the government take no further action against the UK betting industry. The signatures were collected over the course of last weekend, demonstrating that large numbers of the UK public are not against betting shops, despite the hullabaloo being caused by a very vocal minority.

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