Analysts predict outcome of delayed Triennial Review

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With the Triennial Review pushed back “by what looks like at least six months”, Barclays and industry analysts have made predictions for the months ahead.


As the industry as a whole waits for more information on the delayed Triennial Review, Barclays and analysts from the betting industry have weighed in on what may come of the election and the subsequent review of stakes and prizes.

In line with expectations, Barclays analysts stated that bookmakers will be hit harder than any other sector by incoming regulations. However, the finance giant also predicted a “low probability” of a £2 limit being imposed on B2 machines, implying that a £10, £25, or £50 maximum stake is more likely.

With B3s taking a maximum stake of £2, this forecasted continuum in lack of parity will come as a disappointment to many amusement operators, although any move towards a level playing field would likely be viewed as progress.

Barclays analysts added that a stake reduction below £50 would spark cost-cutting in the betting industry, a fate amusement operators have been all too familiar with since FOBTs distorted the market over a decade ago. With the snap election call, however, it seems that bookmakers have been given a small reprieve, possibly till as far off as late autumn.

“On one hand a delay is a shortterm positive [for bookmakers] as any potential profit impact to operators is delayed by what looks like at least six months,” analyst Gavin Kelleher of Goodbody said. “It also provides [betting] operators with more time to mitigate as much of their machines away from highstaking B2 content, along with positioning as much of their machine player base towards registered play, as this could be a likely recommendation.

“However, the potential for a significant maximum stake reduction on B2 gaming machines remains an overhang on retail bookmakers in the UK.”

In a blog prompted by Theresa May’s political power-play, the director of Global Gaming and Betting Consultants asked “what prominence will FOBTs be given in the various manifestos?” Predicting the attitude towards gambling that may arise from party election campaigns, Lorien Pilling wrote: “FOBTs are not a key issue amongst the electorate but it is still one that can carry a couple of lines in the manifesto, if only to demonstrate that the parties concerned are‘caring’.”

He added that politicians should, however, refrain from saying too much, because to do so will prejudice the review and could leave them open to a judicial review later.

“What is likely is broad statements involving social responsibility on the part of [betting] operators and additional measures to prevent addictive play,” Pilling continued. “Mrs May has caught the opposition parties on the hop. Her announcement came as a surprise and there is little time for them to prepare. As such, gambling might be overlooked in the hastily written manifestos as the politicians focus on other issues, which could be the best result for the gambling sector.”

While it may be true that gambling won’t be a central talking point on any party’s campaign trail, Bacta and other influential bodies are committed to stepping up their lobbying activities for equitable regulations across all sectors of the industry.

With possible changes occurring in leadership roles across all departments and areas of the country, now is probably the last meaningful time to engage and remind politicians that the amusements sector is a force of social and economic good.

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