According to The Times, a cut to the maximum stake on FOBTs will not be implemented until April 2020 following a backroom deal between the Treasury and bookmakers. Bacta, however, aims to ensure this “unacceptable” timeline does not occur.
The long-sought after cut to the maximum stake on FOBTs will not be implemented until April 2020 following reports of a backroom deal between the Treasury and bookmakers, angering Bacta CEO John White, who stated the reported delay is “unwelcome, disappointing, and frankly unacceptable”.
After such a morally strong decision by ministers, he believes it is “inconceivable” that the government could allow FOBTs to impact lives for a further two years.
“This reported delay is unwelcome, disappointing and frankly unacceptable. If the government makes the decision to reduce the stake on the basis of the harm that they cause, how can they possibly countenance continuing to inflict that harm on people for another two years?” White commented. “It’s inconceivable that the government would take this decision, claim all the plaudits for it, and then sit on their hands for two years while people are coming to harm.”
Indeed, one campaign group pondered how the bookmakers were given“a longer transition period than it will take to negotiate Brexit ”to make a simple software update. White believes the idea of a deal with the Treasury is “doubly reprehensible”, and that there is no excuse for such a long delay.
“If a deal has been done between theTreasury and the bookmakers, which is something that is being suggested, then that makes it doubly reprehensible,” he continued. “We are calling on the government to get this through as quickly as is legislatively possible, and that means it can be done this year, if not April next. There is absolutely no reason that this cannot happen as quickly as possible, talk of a delay due to technological change is poppycock. We are in the business, we know how easy it is,these server based games are changing on an almost weekly basis – to suggest that it will take two years to take these games off technologically is rubbish. I can’t believe the Treasury has fallen for that.”
White added that Britain’s bookmakers will have been setting up plans for the full range of Triennial Review scenarios for “month if not years”, as all good businesses would do, so any excuse for extra implementation time is indefensible.
“They cannot have been that arrogant that they thought a £2 stake wouldn’t happen – they would have at least planned for it,”he commented. “We know all this talk of job losses and shop closures has been wildly overstated, and in any case they’ve got to bring an end to single staffing – which is just another unacceptable practice. We also know these shops have been clustered in many local areas just to get more FOBTs – it’s a self generated over capacity in the industry, and it does not take two years to adjust a business for this change. I don’t want to hear these justifications for it, because they are just not credible.”
With that said, White concluded that Bacta “will continue to press government to implement the change as quickly as possible” – and there is no doubt that other campaigners will join them.