British bookmakers received good news this weekend when a source close to Whitehall told the Daily Mail that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, would halt the ongoing review into B2 Gaming Machines, more commonly known as fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
Having previously been delayed because of the snap election, the long awaited review of gaming machine stakes as part of the Triennial Review by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport was expected to be completed by the Autumn.
It was widely speculated that the review would side with political pressure groups who had campaigned for the stakes on FOBTs to be cut to £2. However, bookmakers warned that this would lead to mass job losses within the sector.
It is estimated that £1.8bn is wagered on the terminals every year, contributing more than £400m to the Exchequer. A source said that Hammond fears that cutting the stake to £2 would be ‘financially crippling’ for the treasury.
Despite this, Labour MP Carolyn Harris, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals (which has been criticised for being funded by competitive forces to betting shops) said: “Britain will be financially better off if we take action on these machines.”
The Conservative Party made no mention of FOBTs in its manifesto, but both The Labour Party and The Liberal Democrats pledged to cut the maximum stakes of the terminals to £2.
Nonetheless, since losing its majority the government has been forced to drop numerous money raising policies, which has led to an increase in government borrowing and means Hammond is under great pressure to raise government funds.