Speaking to The Evening Standard on the opening day of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival, Ladbrokes Coral CEO Jim Mullen has warned the UK government that stringent limits on fixed-odds-betting-terminals (FOBTs) could force the closure of bookmakers and risk a significant number of job losses.
UK bookmakers await the publication of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) official industry review this April. The review is set to focus on two key areas, FOBTs wagering requirements and industry advertising practices.
At present the machines have a maximum stake of £100, however campaigners and number of politicians have asked the government to limit maximum FOBT’s bets to £2, stating concerns attached consumer problem gambling.
Ladbrokes Coral CEO Mullen has been the most outspoken industry leader with regards to the FOBTs debate demanding that the government undertake a fair review of the industry, considering its numerous stakeholders.
Detailing industry concerns, Mullen states that a significant reduction in wagering levels could lead to a wipeout of costly London’s 1800 betting shops, which employ more than 9000 workers.
“In London alone, potential shop closures could hit nearly 1000, with nearly half of all employees, 4300, losing their jobs, and a potential tax loss to the Exchequer from these London shops alone of £230 million by 2020”.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph last month, Ladbrokes Coral leader stated that concerned MPs needed to ‘step back from the fray and take a serious look at the facts’, pointing out that FOBTs had not led to a serious increase in problem gambling.
Furthermore, Mullen points that any severe action taken against FOBTs would be represent an ‘unjust call’ that would have unjustified repercussions for all industry operators and their employees.