Labour MP Pledges to Continue the Fight Against FOBTs

Fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) have hit the headlines once again as Labour MP Carolyn Harris vowed to continue fighting until the games are no more.

Labour MP Carolyn Harris

Labour MP Carolyn Harris has vowed to fight on against the threat of fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs). (Image: Association)

Just three weeks after the government announced the maximum stake per round would be cut to £2, Harris has called for further sanctions. Outlining her thoughts in The Mirror, the Welsh MP said that the reduction in stakes was a start but by no means the end when it comes to protecting players.

“Government ministers are saying they can reduce the stake only once they ­increase the duty on online ­gambling and that this could take up to two years. While I agree that online operators should be taxed more, this timescale is totally unacceptable,” Harris wrote in the newspaper column on June 9.

Lower Stakes Means Less Tax Revenue

From the government’s perspective, tax revenue from the gambling sector will be significantly reduced now the new limits are in place. Prior to announcing the change, sources inside Westminster reported that the decision was taking more time than expected due to budget concerns.

Thanks to a 73 percent increase in activity since 2009, FOBT revenue topped £1.8 billion in 2017. A study commissioned by the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) and carried out by financial firm KPMG predicted that a reduction in stakes wold cost the Treasury £1 billion by 2020.

In a bid to offset the drop in revenue from the high street betting terminals, the government is planning to increase the taxes online operators have to pay. However, to implement the new systems will take time, time that Harris and her supporters aren’t happy with.

Gambling a Major Economic Force

For those on the other side of the divide, too many drastic changes could not only harm the betting industry but the economy. With on the UK Gambling Commission’s (UKGC) latest report showing gross gambling yield (GGY) is now at £13.9 billion, the industry has become a major contributor to national coffers.

To help quell public backlash against betting operators, the UKGC has tightened up its rules regarding social responsibility. As well as handing out fines to a number of the leading brands, the regulatory body wants its licensees to make the protection of players a fundamental priority.

Despite these efforts, Harris is adamant that she will continue to fight until FOBTs are no longer a threat to vulnerable members of society.

“We will not stop until the Government implements the changes they have promised,” the MP concluded in her June 9th piece.

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