Bookmaker-commissioned report could be behind FOBT delay

By Nathan Joyes

Research commissioned by bookmakers is being reported to have influenced the UK government's decision to delay cutting stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

Although stakes will be cut from £100 to £2, this won’t be put into place until October 2019. Chancellor Philip Hammond decided to delay the decision due to potential job losses within the gambling sector.

The decision was met with anger from anti-gambling campaigners, which also saw the resignation of Sports Minister Tracey Crouch.

But the report it is said to have been based on, which includes a disclaimer, was written by accountancy firm KPMG on behalf of the gambling industry.

Labour MP Carolyn Harris, who campaigned for FOBT stake reduction, said: “The chancellor has apparently decided to delay the stake cut on FOBTs because of date in a widely discredited report.

"This is policymaking of the worst kind, not based on evidence and pandering to a corporate interest at the expense of the public interest and the protection of the vulnerable."

The credibility of the report given by Treasury officials did not sit well with Paddy Power Betfair, who reportedly wrote to the prime minister to warn against it being used for the decision.

Matt Zarb-Cousin, a campaigner from Fairer Gambling, said: "Philip Hammond has got his sums wrong by basing them entirely on bookie-funded research that hasn’t been made available for public scrutiny."

Gambling Insider reached out to KPMG for comment.


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