Earlier this week, representatives of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) came out against the effort being made by secretary of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Matthew Hancock to reduce the maximum wager at any FOBT to just £2. (The current maximum wager on the controversial machines is £100.)
FOBTs are hugely controversial in the UK and have been likened to addictive drugs like crack by their critics. The idea of reducing the maximum wager size on them has some pretty high level backers, including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who tweeted his support for the measure saying:
I hope the Government’s review into gambling will result in action to tackle highly addictive Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. Labour is committed to reducing the maximum stake from £100 to £2 a spin.
The idea of reducing wager size, and consequently revenue was less popular in the UK gaming industry and the investors who trade in its shares. As word of the proposed reduction spread, shares of gaming industry companies began falling. William Hill took the worst beating of the day with a loss of 11 percent.
In a statement to the press, as reported on by the UK Guardian, a representative of Ladbrokes said that the measure would have, “serious consequences,” for the entire UK gambling industry.
Even the BHA, which is supposedly in competition with FOBT operators, came out in opposition of the proposal. In its own statement to the press, BHA Executive Director Will Lambe said the drop in wager size would have a significant, negative impact on horseracing, which relies on taxes raised by other forms of gambling.
As of this writing, the effort to limit wager sizes on FOBTs has not formally been presented to lawmakers and is still under review.
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