After the resignation of former UK Sports Minister Tracey Crouch and much opposition from leading Tory MPs, the government has announced it will bring forward the date of the maximum stake of FOBTs being cut to April 2019.
In order to give the industry a period to adjust and protect it from potential job losses, the reduction had originally been scheduled for October 2019, however culture secretary, Jeremy Wright confirmed the anticipated U-turn with a written statement.
“The government has been clear that protecting vulnerable people is the prime concern, but that as a responsible government it is also right to take the needs of those employed by the gambling industry into account and provide time for an orderly transition.
“Parliament has, however, been clear that they want this change to be made sooner. The government has listened and will now implement the reduction in April 2019.”
Seeking to fill the inevitable economic void left by FOBTs, the government has also announced it will also bring forward the rise in remote gaming duty tax to April. Online casino tax is set to increase from 15 per cent to 21 per cent.
Commenting on how damaging the tax increase could be for casino operators, James Myles, an analyst at consultancy Eta Delta and a speaker on the tax panel at the inaugural CasinoBeats Summit in September, previously emphasised to CasinoBeats that “That the sector ‘can afford it’ is a ridiculous justification.”
He added: “The government has created its own FOBT crisis, by relying upon then destroying this revenue source to the Treasury’s coffers without contingency.”
Speaking ahead of the anticipated rise, David Clifton, director at Clifton Davies Consultancy, emphasised: “Its seems a long distance now, the days of Tessa Jowell, the former Minister of Culture, Media & Sports under [former prime minister] Tony Blair, stating that the UK would lead the world in terms of gambling, through light-touch regulations”.