Despite reporting an eight per cent rise in turnover, now standing at £302m, a strong Cheltenham, the addition of 10 new shops and a successful live streaming launch, the business, which runs 1822 betting shops, believes politicians are being misled when it comes to responsible gaming and the associated link between FOBTs and problem gamblers. MGD resulted in a £6.2m or four per cent increase in reported costs.
The operator also sounded a cautionary note for the racing industry. “Tax revenues will also suffer and payments to racing will reduce, which will threaten the fragile economic position of the UK’s second most popular sport,” the financial report reveals.
“Government action, and the prejudicial statements made by campaigners and some politicians, should be seen in the context of the recent independent report by the Gambling Commission. This report stated that problem gamblers typically use 7 different gambling products, of which FOBTs are the 6th most commonly used. This data demonstrates that the aggressive criticism of FOBTs is disproportionate and unfair. It is also important to note that the UK has one of the lowest rates of problem gambling in the world and that this rate has not increased since 1999, when there were no FOBTs; nor, indeed, was there any online gambling,” added the regulatory review.
Similarly, Ladbrokes Chief Executive Richard Glynn called for an “evidence based debate” last month, citing the threat posed by regulatory uncertainty and a rise in MGD from March 2015.