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NEWS 18 September 2018

UK government: “There is no delay to FOBT restrictions"

By Tim Poole

The UK government has stressed there will be no delay in its plans to restrict maximum stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

In May, the government decided to reduce the maximum FOBT stake from £100 to £2 to lower the risk of “gambling-related harm.”

However, reports in June surfaced that the policy could be delayed until 2020, due to concerns the Treasury would lose money in Machine Games Duty.

Recent findings from the Centre for Economic and Business Research have suggested any such delay would see the Treasury miss out on between £98m and £132m a year, primarily from increased taxing of online operators and tax revenue generated by substitute products.

At the same time, the research indicated that bookmakers will profit by between £348m and £540m a year from FOBT revenue while the supposed delay is ongoing.

But the Treasury has said there will be no delay and that Remote Gaming Duty will indeed be raised.

A Treasury spokesperson told Gambling Insider: “There is no delay to the policy. We are changing the rules, so they balance the needs of vulnerable people, those who gamble responsibly, and people who work in this sector.

“But we must get this right, and are engaging with the industry, to ensure it has sufficient time to implement these technological changes.

“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 operators, at the relevant Budget.”

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