Wednesday April 30,2014 : U.K. GOVERNMENT CONFIRMS MORE REASONABLE F.O.B.T. APPROACH
But another leading bookmaker cautions that shop closures and job losses may be inevitable.
The British government confirmed Wednesday that it is taking a more reasonable approach to ameliorating the threat of problem gambling that Fixed Odds Betting Terminals and the location of betting shops allegedly represents.
FOBTs account for some GBP 1.5 billion in annual revenues for Britain's major betting firms, and rather than insisting on lower betting limits, the government has decided that punters who want to spend more than GBP 50) on the machines, which are available in most betting shops, will be required to pay over the counter before they play, rather than being able to feed the money in directly.
That will entail interaction with betting shop staff as a moderating influence. Large companies will have to offer customers accounts so that activity can be tracked and monitored via statements.
With local councils now having the power to refuse betting shop applications in their areas, analysts expect that already established companies like William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral and Betfred will gain an advantage over competitors trying to open shops the same area.
The more reasonable government requirements resulted in rising share prices for gambling firms Wednesday, but not everyone was happy about the consequences of more restrictive regulations.
Paddy Power was critical of the government curbs on betting shops, which will possibly impact the Irish betting group's plans for expansion in the UK.
Andy McCue, head of retail for UK and Ireland at Paddy Power told the Telegraph newspaper:
“These proposed planning reforms are wholly unnecessary and will reduce competition in a sector with betting shop numbers already in decline: so far in 2014, 150 betting shop closures have been announced, with many more expected.
“In a market where the Big 4 incumbents control 90 percent and openly welcome planning restrictions, challenger brands like Paddy Power will be prevented from offering choice and value to consumers.
“The proposed planning changes are a fudge not a fix and pre-empt an evidence-based approach to addressing concerns about fixed odds betting terminals.”