John White – Bacta – UK government has not ‘shelved’ FOBTs review

Bacta Chief Executive John White has reassured members that contrary to recent speculation, the review of FOBT stakes has not been shelved and is encouraging Chancellor Philip Hammond to take a ‘holistic view’ of the broad and powerful economic benefits contained within the association’s triennial submission.

Commenting on last week’s FOBTs story which appeared in the Daily Mail, stating that the government had halted its review of B2 Machines, White said: “I think we should view this in context.  Parliament is in recess and we are in what is widely regarded as being the ‘silly season’ for news.  Furthermore, anyone who follows Tracey Crouch on Twitter will have seen that she labelled this simply as ‘Fake News’.

“The story, which was repudiated in a follow up piece which appeared in The Times, does however, provide us with an opportunity to press home Bacta’s economic and social case for a progressive approach to stakes and prizes that will enable our member companies to continue to make important contributions to regional economies throughout the country; not least those at the coast where many millions of UK citizens and international visitors will be holidaying this summer.

“I have written to the Chancellor to underline the key economic and social arguments contained within our triennial submission and the findings of the Landman Report which showed that money spent in other parts of the leisure economy generate 3.5 times the number of jobs compared to when the same sum is spent within Licensed Betting Offices.

“We want to be proud of an industry that is recognised for what it is – a progressive, respected and socially responsible entertainment choice. The well-documented levels of social harm caused by FOBTs as they are currently configured is damaging the reputation of gaming per se and bringing it into disrepute.”

The Conservative Party made no mention of FOBTs in its manifesto, but both The Labour Party and The Liberal Democrats have pledged to cut the maximum stakes of the terminals to £2.

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.