While cutting the fixed odds betting terminals to £30 may have seemed drastic to some, it pales in comparison to the £2 regulation they originally were hoping for. The UK Gambling Commission has decided to move away from maximum stakes on the fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBT) at UK casinos be cut to £2.
This news comes as great news for bookmakers who were fearing the worst, and is angering regulators who feel the gambling community as a whole will suffer if the numbers are not lowered. If the stakes were cut from £100 to just £2 as originally intended, it would have a certain negative impact on profitability for betting shops.
Putting UK Casino Players First
Chief Executive of the Gambling Commission, Neil McArthur, states the consumers are always at the heart of every decision they make. The goal here is reducing the risk to the consumers. A stake cut to £30 just will not go far enough in protecting those gamblers who are vulnerable. Many are critical the cut isn't deep enough and is nothing more than the administration passing the buck down to ministers.
The good news is that at £30, there is always room to cut more if warranted down the road.
The Hidden Epidemic of Gambling Addiction
There are many visible signs that a person is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, but can you spot a gambler in a room of a half-dozen people? It would be difficult to determine five out of six gamblers in a line-up, there really are no physical signs of a gambling addiction. This hidden epidemic will only continue to get worse as younger children are being exposed to gambling sites online. Decisive action to get the number to £2 will protect those who need help today.
Ignoring the silent majority here could expose the industry to trouble if those unable to rationally think about their gambling habits are not protected.
The Betting Industry Holds the Cards
The reason it is so challenging for ministers to step up and do the right thing is because the betting industry generates in excess of £1.8bn every year. The ministers are simply putting the health of profits before the health of customers. According to the Association of British Bookmakers, if the cuts are £2, there may be 4,500 betting shop closures, jobs lost will total 21,000, and nearly £1.1 billion will be lost in taxes paid. Contrast that to the reduction to £30, with about 2,100 shop closures, potentially 10,000 jobs being lost, and only £260 million in taxes not finding the Treasury.
This Commission identified some responsible gambling measures that actually benefit those experiencing gambling problems. The ultimate decision still remains to be determined and the outcome of the consultation is forthcoming.
Although there will certainly be losses felt no matter where the number winds up, it will certainly weed out some of the problematic sites in the industry. Tighter numbers protect the players and keep the wagering sites in check as gambling numbers continue to reach record numbers.