Chancellor Philip Hammond is under pressure to scrap plans to delay the introduction of the new FOBT maximum stake rules until 2020, with the All Party Parliamentary Group on the issue set to this week publish a report claiming there is “no justification” for such a move.
In May, the government announced that it was to accept Gambling Commission recommendations for a new £2 (€2.27/$2.63) stake limit on FOBTs, down from the existing £100.
It was originally planned for the changes to come into effect from 2019, but Hammond (pictured) and the Treasury has since moved to delay the new regulations until 2020, much to the dismay of critics of the machines, including local councils and the opposition Labour Party.
The reduction in the maximum stake is expected to cut around £457m each year in tax from Treasury nets, which some believe may be influencing the delay.
However, a spokesperson for the All Party Parliamentary Group has criticised the Treasury over the move, telling iGamingBusiness.com that the new rules should be implemented “no later than April 2019”.
“The FOBT All Party Parliamentary Group has just undertaken an inquiry looking at the need to implement the stake reduction on FOBTs,” the spokesperson said. “Its report is due to be published this week.
“The Group has found there is no justification for delaying the stake reduction on FOBTs and this should happen as soon as possible, and no later than April 2019, to prevent further harm to vulnerable people and at risk gamblers.”
Iain Duncan Smith, former leader of the ruling Conservative Party and Work and Pensions Secretary, has also urged the Chancellor to bring the regulatory roll-out forward for “financial and moral reasons”.
According to the Telegraph, Duncan Smith said: “An estimated two people commit suicide in connection with gambling every working day. Therefore, for financial and moral reasons we must implement the FOBT reduction as soon as possible.
“The pressure on MPs from the families of those who died and whose lives have been blighted by these machines grows greater by the day…we feel it vital we respond.
“On their behalf we urge the Chancellor to act to establish the date of commencement as April 2019. If however that is not forthcoming in the budget then we will feel honour bound to seek an all-party amendment to the finance bill to do that.”
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