Government caves in to pressure on fixed odds betting changes

The government has been forced into a U-turn over the planned timetable for reducing the stakes on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs), which will now be introduced in April 2019 following public and political outcry and a ministerial resignation

The government announced in May that that the maximum stakes of FOBTs would be reduced from £100 to £2, but in the Autumn Budget Chancellor Philip Hammond said the cut would not be introduced until October 2019.

Sports minister Tracey Crouch resigned over the issue, which also ignited strong opposition from politicians and others, who said the six-month delay meant thousands of vulnerable people risked losing money on the so-called ‘crack cocaine’ gambling machines.

In response Jeremy Wright, the secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, has made a Parliamentary statement saying the switch will now happen in April 2019.

This will be done through legislation to be laid before Parliament this week. It will be paid for by bringing forward the date of implementation of an increase in remote gaming duty, which was set to rise from 15% to 21% also in October 2019, but will now take effect from April 2019.

Wright said: ‘After a thorough consultation with interested parties, including charities, campaigners and the gambling industry, across government we reached a decision to make this significant change in October 2019.

‘In order to cover the negative impact on the public finances, and to protect vital public services, this change is being linked to an increase in remote gaming duty, paid by online gaming operators.

‘The government will expect the gambling industry to work with it to reduce the effect of any impact on jobs and to support employees that may be affected by this expedited timeline.’

Crouch said: ‘I am delighted common sense has prevailed.’

Wright’s statement is here

Report by Pat Sweet

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