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UK government to impose more limits on FOBTs
Sunday April 27 ,2014 : BRIT BOOKIES BRACE FOR MORE RESTRICTIONS
UK government to impose more limits on FOBTs, and give local councils more authority on betting shop locations.
British bookmaking companies could be facing further tribulations this week as the UK government tightens the screws on betting, according to reports over the weekend in the Guardian and Telegraph newspapers.
The Guardian reports that the government, under media and activist pressure, is to lower the maximum bet limits on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals in betting shops. The new restraints follow voluntary Association of British Bookmakers amendments that have already been implemented by most UK bookies.
Last week, ministers agreed to lower the maximum bet limit, dismissing industry arguments that this would adversely impact profits and ultimately cost jobs. William Hill has already announced the closure of 109 shops over the course of this year
The political decisions appear to disregard the factual findings of a review by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport last year which found that only 2.5 percent of bets on FOBTs are made at the maximum GBP 100 stake level.
Ministers are reportedly considering a limit between GBP 50 and GBP 100. Annual player losses on the terminals have grown from GBP 1.3 billion to GBP 1.5 billion, and the machines now account for half of bookmakers' gross profits, The Guradian reports.
The Campaign for Fairer Gambling, which has been responsible for much of the negative media coverage on FOBTs, says that the maximum stake should be reduced to just GBP 2 per spin.
The Telegraph reports that local councils are to be given more authority over where betting shops can be located in their jurisdictions. The government is to hand local councils the power to veto the opening of new betting shops in their towns and close those shops that are not staffed and operated in a responsible manner, the newspaper claims.
A government source said: "We know lots of people are worried about the numbers of betting shops that have sprung up on their high street. It is only right to give local communities the power to object to a new betting shop if they feel they already have too many on their doorstep. The balance has to be right."
UK prime minister David Cameron is expected in the coming week to announce the creation of a new planning class for betting shops, allowing councils to vet their applications more stringently than for other retailers.
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