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Lawmakers want vote on FOBT crackdown delay

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UK lawmakers who remain concerned about the social impact of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals in betting offices may have found a new way to rebel against the government’s plan to delay the crackdown on the maximum stakes allowed on such machines.

In his budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond introduced plans to reduce the maximum FOBT stake from £100 to £2 but only from October 2019 – a full six months later than many had expected.

It has also been said that the government is avoiding a vote on the issue by using “parliamentary tricks”, as reported by Bloomberg, however legislators have now opposed the delay and are using a little scheme of their own.

Lawmakers have to inspect the new legislation in detail and so the plan is that when they do, they can insert a clause in Hammond’s bill that would call for an inquiry and assessment of the consequences of moving forward the cap on maximum FOBT stakes to April.

The Chancellor himself told legislators that the government had chosen October 2019 for the bill as it would balance the needs of the gambling industry which is still a huge tax payer, while also mitigating job losses in betting shops after large bookmakers threatened that the new law would lead to thousands of redundancies.

Despite the need to protect jobs though Sports Minister Tracey Crouch resigned last week in protest at the delay, arguing that the government hadn’t done enough to protect the public from the devastating effects of these machines.

Upon resigning her post, Crouch said that £1.6 billion will be bet on these machines over the next year and also that there are two gambling-related suicides per day in Britain, though once again she failed to mention that the two things are not always linked.

It seems this has now come down to a battle between lawmakers and bookmakers, the former looking to ensure the latter’s lobbying was not a success.

Gary Christie

Having been immersed in the worlds of sports betting and writing for the past 20 years, Gary Christie has vast experience on the subjects.  He has produced content for various leading websites, including both TVG and Mr Green Casino. Contact Gary at garychristie@wagered.com.