UK Government may delay FOBT restrictions

Businessman holding hourglass in the office

Reports in the UK media suggest that the government may be considering a delay in the implementation of its cut in the maximum stake for Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs).

According to the Guardian newspaper, sources within the government have suggested that the original target date of April 2019 is no longer part of the Treasury’s 2019 budget policy.

The decision to cut the maximum FOBT stake from £100 to £2 was announced in May by the Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) following a period of consultation, and was widely welcomed outside the betting industry.

But in the months since the announcement, the government has been facing increasing criticism over its delay in implementing the reduction. There appears to be wide agreement across all political parties in the UK that the reduction should be in place by no later than April 2019, but it is believed that the Treasury is concerned about the potential loss of revenue, at a time when the Chancellor Philip Hammond is under pressure to ease the fiscal austerity that has been in place since 2010.

Remote gambling duties

The suggestion of a potential delay in FOBT stake reduction has further heightened interest in Monday’s Autumn Budget, in which the Chancellor is also expected to increase the level of remote gambling duties. There are fears in the betting industry that the government could implement a 20 percent duty rise to compensate for the £450 million that the Treasury are set to lose with the FOBT stake reduction, and betting companies are already preparing for the worst.

If the remote gambling duty is increased, it would represent the third tax change for the online gambling industry in four years, following the introductions of the Point-of-Consumption Charge in 2014 and Industry Free-Play Taxation in 2016.

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