The UK Culture Secretary Matt Hancock has received a letter signed by UK betting firms bosses from all across the country to stop a mulled ban that would limit the ceiling a gambler can wager on a slot machine at £2. If the ban is applied to the fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), they consider, it would have catastrophic implications for the business as a whole.
The State of Gambling in the UK
Under the current legislation, gamblers can risk and wager quite a bit of money, around £100 a spin, at an electronic machine. However, major figures from the industry are now cautioning that slapping machines with the feared £2 ceiling would not only drain profits but imperil the existence of the industry itself.
According to Ladbrokes, William Hill, Betfred, Scotbet, and Jenningsbet, they all expect dire consequences not only for the economy itself but employment as well. The appeal casino and sports betting bosses have made asks of Mr Hancock not to proceed with this move that would de facto ‘sacrifice betting shops.’
What’s wrong with the new ban? At a rate of £2, industry leaders expect that the FOBTs will not be sustainable, meaning that the measure would be tantamount to a ban. As fears intensify, so do efforts to reach the man.
The To and Fro of a Dialogue Between Leaders and Government
Come what may, the government is set on a reduction of the rate. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is leading a review into machines, and the commission has recently reported that the Treasury will seek to reduce the rate of the maximum stake in all likelihood.
Reportedly, Chancellor Philip Hammond has been prepared to introduce the overwhelming rate, giving business the willies.
The DCMS also published a report as recently as last week, outlining the implications of a gambling industry that has come under a heavy fire, but also focusing on the specific issue at hand.
Meanwhile, gambling executives and market leaders have addressed the government in a bid to postpone the enactment of the measure and seek an audience with the men and women responsible. In a letter, gambling bosses said:
As the chief executives of UK retail betting shops we would like to express our alarm, that according to media reports, the government has determined that the maximum stake on betting shop gaming machines should be reduced from £100 to the lowest possible level of £2
The recent developments do not go to show that gambling leaders are over-concerned about their trade. However, the implications for the job market and economy are just as bleak. In their letter, the gambling leaders estimate that as many as 21,000 direct jobs could be impacted by the issue.
The Treasury has recently said that the DCMS’ work is to create a gambling ecosystem where people who are vulnerable to people may feel safe and not fall prey to self-destructive habits. It is up to the institution to uphold responsible gambling rules but also to look after the economic well-being of those people involved in the sector.