Government Takes a Stand as Fixed Odds Betting Terminals Are Cut to £2

Fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) will now have a maximum bet of £2 per round after government minister Matt Hancock vowed to take a stand against a “social blight.”

Fixed Odds Betting Terminals

High street punters will soon see their max bet on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) cut to £2. (Image: tuckered.co.uk)

News of the decision to cut the maximum stakes from £100 came after a long-running review by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

After opening up a discussion on the topic back in September 2016, the government pledged to review the status of FOBTs and their impact on society.

Discussions with betting operators, industry insiders and social welfare groups eventually led to formal consultation. Published in October 2017, the review sought expert advice from various authorities, including the UK Gambling Commission, and formed the basis of the recent decision.

Government Focus on the Vulnerable

After reading the proposals and analysing the economic impact of any potential changes, Minister for Sport and Civil Society Tracey Crouch announced the final decision on May 17, 2018. In outlining the government’s plan, Crouch said that striking a balance between growth for the betting industry and social responsibility was important.

However, when push came to shove, DCMS Secretary of State Matt Hancock was adamant that the needs of consumers should come before business.

“When faced with the choice of halfway measures or doing everything we can to protect vulnerable people, we have chosen to take a stand,” Hancock said in an official press release.

Prior to the decision, betting bosses had been hopeful that the changes would be less dramatic. In its role as the government’s gambling regulator and advisory body, the UKGC proposed a maximum bet of up to £30 for FOBT roulette.

In a last-ditch attempt to change the tide, Pension Secretary Esther McVey staged a parliamentary revolt. As reported by The Times, McVey led a group of government rebels against a situation she was “very strongly” opposed to.

But with pressure from outside sources too great to ignore, calls for bigger betting limits were ultimately ignored.

Online Operators to Foot the Bill

As well as pledging to cut FOBT stakes to £2, the government will put in a place a series of measures designed to increase gambling awareness. In addition to media campaigns and strengthening the rules regarding age verification, ministers will review the age limit for playing the National Lottery.

These announcements aside, the most significant revelation is that remote gaming duty is set to increase. Details regarding the new levy will be detailed in the next budget, but the government’s press release noted that the increased charges will offset the money lost by reducing FOBT stakes.

According to official statistics, FOBTs generated £1.8 billion in tax revenue in 2017. For many in favour of the betting terminals, this contribution to the state’s coffers was a reason not to adjust the betting limits.

However, at this stage, ministers are confident that taxes on online operators will address this shortfall and allow them to protect the public more effectively. The rule change will now have to be approved by parliament before its written into law.

Share Now: