FOBT stake slash gets thumbs up from regulatory reviewers

FOBT, stake, regulatory reviewers, committee
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The Regulatory Policy Committee has accepted a revised impact assessment from the DCMS on its proposed cut to maximum stakes on betting shop terminals. The fall-out, they say, is alright with them.

The Regulatory Policy Committee has given its stamp of approval to the imminent cut on maximum FOBT stakes, scheduled to come into effect on April 1.
The non-departmental advisory body, which reviews all proposed laws ahead of their implementation, had knocked back an initial impact assessment document from the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) – citing concerns of unsustainable losses to independent betting– shops once maximum B2 stakes are slashed from £100 to £2.
At the time,RPC commissioners asserted the government’s claim that the gambling market would “adjust effectively” to the move was without “reasoning and evidence.”
But a fleshed out, revised submission from the DCMS has apparently satisfied the reviewing body – who now claim that the new law is “fit for purpose.”
Proving that little details can make all the difference,an apparent typo in the original IA had massively over- stated the market share of small and micro operators within the betting sector:with an omitted decimal point leading the RPC to believe that independent betting shops constitute 13 per cent (as opposed to just 1.3 per cent) of the sector.
The error was sufficient to give the RPC some pause for thought,as two out of five small betting-shop chains participating in a recent DCMS consultation (a process which ultimately led to the new government line on B2s) claimed that a clampdown on FOBTs would place them in jeopardy of closures.
But with clarification on the actual market- share of such at-risk operations,the RPC has argued in a new report that the revised figure “substantially reduces the estimated scale of impact”on the betting industry as a whole.
Still,the DCMS hasn’t pulled any punches as to the scale of the estimated financial blow the betting industry will be forced to endure this year:their figures suggest a loss of B2 GGY somewhere in the region of £980m.With displacement of customers splurging on alternative forms of gaming products,that figure tumbles to a markedly less (but still eye-watering) £540m.
A small price to pay for the mitigation of gambling addiction? That’s the government perspective. Indeed, the momentum which ushered in the new legislation was one bourn out of a desire to redress the role B2s are perceived to play in driving gambling addiction,rather than redressing long-term market imbalances on the high street. Nevertheless,whilst accepting the imminent measure in its present form,the RPC did express some scepticism as to the preventative effectiveness of stake reduction in getting to grips with problem gambling.
“The impact assessment would benefit from stronger evidence on what behavioural changes the policy will cause,and what level of benefits this will generate,”said the authors, who claimed that the net social impact of the new policy amounted to little more than“estimated changes.”


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