UK Government under fire for decision to delay FOTB crackdown

By Jake Patel

The UK Government plans to delay cutting the maximum stakes on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBT) from £100 to £2 until 2020 and have also announced they wish to raise online gambling tax.

As it stands the online gambling in the UK is subject to a 15% point of consumption tax, there is no word yet on how much the treasury wish to increase this by.

The FOBT cut was postponed to give the UK time to set up and approve legislation, and the online gambling tax increase is expected to come into play in the April 2019 budget in an attempt to compensate for the loss of revenue from smaller stakes on FOBTs.

This raised concerns that we may see a year of double-dipping where the treasury will be able to collect higher rates from online gambling operators while still benefitting from maximum £100 bet on FOBTs.

However a spokesperson from the Treasury has said that there will be no double-dipping or anything of the sort, and that the changes to the stake on FOTBs is still subject to parliamentary approval.

“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 Treasury has yet to confirm whether April 2020 will be the target date for implementing the £2 FOBT limits.

The labour party has criticised the decision to delay the £2 cap on FOTBs saying that there is nothing stopping them from implementing it now.

“Capitulating to a two-year delay is a pathetic move from a fundamentally weak government,” said Labour deputy leader Tom Watson. “Those who praised the government when the announcement was made will feel badly let down.”

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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