Labour’s manifesto for the 2017 general election pulls no punches against FOBTs, but what does the party’s other policies mean for the amusements industry?
Labour will reduce the maximum stake on FOBTS and increase the delay between spins, the party manifesto promises, as well as reviewing ‘the large-scale demise of pubs’ and improving infrastructure outside of the South-East.
Leaked on 11 May and officially released on 16 May, the manifesto outlines a reduction in the FOBT maximum stake from £100 to £2, cutting limits to the same level as on B3 machines. This is in-line with the All Party Parliamentary Group’s (APPG) recommendations, but goes further than is expected from the now-delayed triennial review, in which reductions to £10 or £20 have been widely predicted. Another APPG suggestion echoed by the Labour manifesto is the party’s pledge to “legislate to increase the delay in between spins on these games”, which would further decrease the disparity between bookmakers and AGCs on the high street.
With less direct implications for the amusements industry, Labour has also pledged to “set up a National Review of Local Pubs to examine the causes for the largescale demise of pubs, as well as the establishment of a joint taskforce that will consider future sustainability.”
This may, however, come as welcome news for single site operators, who have seen cashboxes in pub machines dwindle during the long-term downturn of the sector.
Widening its perspective, the manifesto also promises to correct a “historic under-investment in infrastructure”, labelling it as a “a major contributor to the disparity between the south-east and the rest of the country”. The solution, Labour say, is to ensure share investment around every region of the UK, with the party pledging to “invest £250 billion over ten years in upgrading our economy to ensure that our transport, energy and digital infrastructure is fit for the 21st Century.”
Indeed, for seaside operators, Labour’s national investment plans include “coastal protections, better flood management and broadband and 4G extensions” that the party say “will underpin the future success of rural small businesses”. For small businesses in general, Labour has made further promises to reinstate the small business corporation tax rate, introduce a package of reforms on business rates, and scrap quarterly reporting for businesses with a turnover of under £83,000. While operators will be pleased to see the direct calls-toaction on FOBTs, many will be holding judgement before seeing other party manifestos, which are yet to be released at time of print.