UK to delay FOBT crackdown but raise online gambling tax

By Caroline Byrne

The UK government’s crackdown on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBT) is to be postponed until 2020, giving the industry a reported boost of £4 billion, based on average revenues.

In May, the UK said it would lower the maximum stake for FOBT from £100 to a £2 limit but that will be postponed so the UK can set up and approve legislation. The Treasury also expects to impose a higher tax rate on online gambling services in the April 2019 budget to compensate for the loss of tax revenues from lower FOBT profits.

“We are changing the rules, so they balance the needs of vulnerable people, those who gamble responsibly and people who work in this sector," the Treasury told Gambling Insider.

“In order to cover any negative impact on the public finances, and to protect funding for vital public services, this change will be linked to an increase in Remote Gaming Duty, paid by online gaming operators, at the relevant Budget.”

The Association of British Bookmakers said, “As a result of the government’s decision to reduce stakes on gaming machines to £2, betting shops are now working to adjust to the changes.”

"The £2 maximum stake will cause thousands of job losses and will require significant readjustment in the industry in terms of shop numbers.  Implementation time would be key to enabling operators to utilise redeployment and voluntary redundancy and to renegotiate leases - potentially saving some shops and jobs. In addition software changes to the architecture of hundreds of games will need to be made.”



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