Last week during a Parliamentary debate over Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Lord Ashton of Hyde emphasised that bookmakers would be engaged with the implementation process of new FOBT regulations.
It was announced by the Government in May that after an extended triennial review that there would be an industry wide cut on the maximum stakes of B2 Gaming Machines from £100 to £2.
During the debate, Lord Ashton of Hyde outlined that the new regulations would be done through a secondary legislation, adding that they “will happen alongside engagement with the gambling industry to ensure that there is an appropriate period in which to implement the technological changes and develop plans to mitigate the potential impact on employment”.
The guarantees to bookmakers were enough to cause discontent from the Bishop of St Albans however, who detailed that the delight he felt after the Government’s original decision to cut the maximum stakes on FOBTs, has now turned to “puzzlement and dismay”.
To which the the DCMS detailed that the process has already commenced with regards to implementing the regulations, he did however underline that the process for this was lengthy, with the European Union under the EU Technical Standards and Regulations Directive, all needing to play a role in the procedure.
Intervening with a cynical perspective on the discussion, Conservative MP, Lord Deben revealed his belief that the reason for the slight delay to the transition period, was because of the interests of the Treasury.
He stated: “This is a Treasury matter and the reason it is being held up is precisely because of that last point—the Treasury makes money out of it? We want this change because this gambling causes misery and ought not to continue. It is not good enough to plead administrative difficulties; these people should stop, and stop now.”
His belief was disputed by Lord Ashton, who underlined: “There is a process that has to be gone through when such measures are implemented. We have to take into account not only the harm to gambling but the harm to employment that will be caused by this.”
Affirming his defence of the timescale for the regulations, he continued: “When we made the announcement that the revenue forgone from FOBTs would be made up by remote gaining duty, we said that the Chancellor would introduce that at the relevant Budget. We want it to be revenue neutral and so the remote gaming duty has to be in place to make up for the forgone revenues. We said that at the time. We are implementing this as quickly as we can. A process has to be gone through and we are keen to get on with it.”