Industry awaits ‘game changing’ DCMS industry FOBTs report

UK industry stakeholders are bracing themselves for this April’s industry review of fixed-odds-betting-terminals (FOBTs) and advertising standards by the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

The DCMS industry publication could become an industry ‘game changer’ should the government move to reduce maximum stakes on FOBTs from £100 to a £2 limit, triggering the industry’s worst scenario.

Focusing on improving industry social responsibility measures, last October DCMS announced that it would carry out an industry probe focusing on ‘FOBTs presence within UK highstreets’, with a number of UK MPs demanding that the government attach an outright £2 limit severely restricting bookmaker operations.

Issuing a market note, Barclays Bank has estimated that a £2 limit could see FTSE-listed bookmaker Ladbrokes Coral lose £450 million in group revenues should DCSMs choose the most stringent outcome.

DCSM could move to impose less severe FOBTS restrictions, limiting machine staking to £10, £25 or £50. Nevertheless, Barclays details that any figure below £50 will likely spark industry-wide ‘cost cutting’.

Throughout 2017, Ladbrokes CEO Jim Mullen has detailed a number of warnings to the UK government urging for a fair review of FOBTs standards and taking into account industry stakeholder concerns.

Last March, Mullen warned that stringent reductions could lead to could lead to a wipeout of costly Ladbrokes Coral London’s 1800 betting shops, which employ more than 9000 workers.

Mullen’s stance has been backed by The Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) which previously claimed 2,500 shops could close nationally by 2020 if a £20 stake limit was imposed, and 3,300 shuttered by a £10 limit.

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