Former head of the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), John Whittingdale, has warned the betting industry to expect bad news on B2s.
The former front bencher, who was often thought to be in favour of the divisive machines, and appeared to take very little action to limit their existence, issued the warning as he spoke directly to the bookmaking industry.
Speaking at the Association of British Bookmakers’ annual meeting in London last week, Whittingdale said of the pressure to limit FOBT stakes from industry, groups and politicians: “Given all of that I would have to say I do think there will be proposals for significant change. I can’t say I would be surprised if there are quite radical measures produced when we come to it and I think you should brace yourself.”
Tracey Crouch, the minster responsible for running the government’s ongoing review of stakes and prizes, was appointed under Whittingdale and was described by him as “not a great fan” of the machines.
He did, however, suggest that the Treasury may move to block a reduction in B2 stakes thanks to the large tax receipts it enjoys.
During the position, Whittingdale confirmed his position as a firm ally of the ABB, saying: “Does [the government] simply seek to shift the issue of problem gambling or work with the industry to solve it? If shifting the problem is all the government wants, then a stake cut is the right route.
“A stake cut will drive problem gamblers into other forms of gambling – in casinos or amusement arcades, or worse the illegal gambling sector with all the attendant links to money laundering and illegal money lenders.”