Government Delayed FOBT Stake Reduction Over “Discredited” Report

It has emerged that the controversial UK Government decision to delay the cut in the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) until October 2019 was heavily influenced by a bookmaker commissioned report that has since been discredited.

Job losses

Speaking in the wake of his budget announcement, Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, explained that fear over job losses was a large factor in his decision.The plan to reduce the maximum stake on the machines from £100 every two minutes, to £2 in the same timeframe, was originally expected to be implemented by April of next year (2019).Hammond explained that he has been told the industry expected to lose at least 15,000 jobs, and as many as 21,000, so would need time to prepare.The decision saw much criticism coming from both ends of the aisle, with Nicky Morgan, chair of the Treasury select committee which Hammond explained his decision to, to accuse him of putting industry jobs above the risks to the lives of addicts.The decision also saw Sports Minister Tracey Crouch resign from her position, citing Hammond’s decision directly.

Doubts

Documents have since emerged that cast doubt on the industry’s claims, which came from a report commissioned by the gambling industry, and written by accountancy firm KPMG.A disclaimer attached to the report, written by KPMG, stated that there were “particular features determined for the purposes of the engagement”, adding:“The report should not therefore be regarded as suitable to be used or relied on by any other person or for any other purpose.”It has also been revealed that the Treasury’s willingness to give credibility to the report saw Paddy Power Betfair contact the Prime Minister directly to warn against using the report, saying some of the assumptions were “unrealistic”, explaining that many shop closures would see customers, and therefore staff, simply moving to other shops.

Leave a comment