Monday September 3, 2012 : HASSLES FOR F.O.B.T.s AHEAD?
Brit politicians want to tone down fixed odds betting terminals in retail betting shops
The furore over allegedly excessive gambling taking place on fixed odds betting terminal machines (FOBTs) in UK land betting shops continues to rumble on, with some politicians now proposing changes to the amount that can be staked by punters.
Earlier this year the business success for operators of FOBTs triggered political views from the likes of Labour Party politician Harriet Harman that the party had been wrong to liberalise gambling laws.
The Daily Mail reported over the weekend that unnamed government ministers are now planning a crackdown on the high-stakes capability of the gambling machines, which it claims allow punters to bet more than GBP 15,000 an hour.
Liberal Democrat members of the coalition government are said to want restrictions on how much a person can bet, imposing a maximum of GBP 2 a bet.
If supporters of the plan are successful, it will fly in the face of the recommendations of a recent House of Commons select committee for culture report, which suggested only weeks ago that UK gambling laws be further relaxed, with FOBT numbers possibly increased .
The Mail points to the high popularity of the machines, on which gamblers can currently stake up to GBP 100 a time on roulette, poker or blackjack with an opportunity to win up to GBP 500.
A government source informed the Daily Mail that "ministers are hoping to make an announcement soon" on the new measures.
However, the newspaper reports that some politicians have expressed concerns that cracking down too hard on land betting shops and FOBTs could push British punters towards online gambling.
The Daily Mail report claims that Lib Dem Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey and culture spokesman Don Foster have both written to John Penrose, the Tory culture minister in charge of gambling policy. Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has also expressed concerns.
Foster told the newspaper last night that ministers were looking at restricting the size of the stake, increasing the time between each ‘spin’, restricting the number of FOTBs a betting shop can install and restricting the number of terminals on each high street.
He added that any changes would be subject to a consultation process.