UK Bookmakers Expecting New Restrictions on FOBTs

Posted on: October 30, 2017, 12:00h. 

Last updated on: October 30, 2017, 12:17h.

Bookmakers in the United Kingdom are expecting to be hit with tough new restrictions on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) when the results of a government review are published sometime this week.

UK terminal betting limits
A new review will recommend stricter limits on how much gamblers can bet when playing FOBTs in the UK. (Image: Rex)

According to a report in The Guardian, government sources have indicated that the report will recommend three different maximum betting levels, all of which are lower than the current limit of £100 ($132).

The review was undertaken by the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport, and was overseen by Culture Minister Tracey Crouch.

Three Possible Betting Limits Proposed

According to The Sun, the review will include proposed limits that will appeal to different groups. One proposal will knock the max bet to £50 ($66), which would be pleasing news to bookmakers. This limit would be a concession, but wouldn’t impact the vast majority of gamblers who play these terminals.

On the other hand, a proposed limit of £2 ($2.63) per bet would please anti-gambling campaigners who have pushed for low limits. However, betting shops say this would be disastrous for their business.

The Association of British Bookmakers has argued that such a change would cause as many as 20,000 jobs to be lost in their industry, and could cost the UK as much as £1 billion in tax revenues by 2020.

That’s why many observers have pegged a compromise limit of £20 ($26) as a likely favorite to emerge as the accepted proposal. While this would be represent a serious concession towards responsible gambling by the betting firms, it would not have nearly as devastating an impact on their bottom line as the more draconian £2 limit.

A recent report from a conservative think tank found that the UK is the only developer nation that offers such a high maximum bet on FOBTs. While many industry officials would like to maintain the status quo, it appears as though they have accepted that the current situation will not remain in place for long.

The Guardian quoted one source as saying that the industry had no plans to legally challenge a decision to lower the maximum bet, as such an appeal was highly unlikely to succeed.

“You’ve got to virtually prove that the secretary of state was insane at the time of making the decision,” a senior industry source was quoted as saying.

Public Awareness Campaign Planned

In addition to the FOBT restrictions, the review is also expect to include a proposal that would see bookmakers and broadcasters work together to fund public service announcements about problem gambling.

The move was initially proposed by those groups, likely in hopes of avoiding restrictions on gambling advertisements being run during live sporting events.

Other recommendations could include more restrictions on the kinds of arcade games children can access, in order to help prevent the normalization of gambling at a young age.

The review is expected to be published on Tuesday, with the news to be announced after the opening of the stock market because of the potential impact on the share prices of gambling firms.