The opposition Labour Party has accused the UK government of being “fundamentally weak” after it emerged that the introduction of curbs on controversial fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) would be delayed until 2020.
The government announced earlier this year that the maximum stake on the machines would be slashed from £100 to £2.
The changes were unlikely to be implemented until 2019 due to the need for parliamentary approval for the introduction of a new statutory instrument. However, despite reports that the changes would take bookmakers a maximum of eight weeks to implement, a later transition date has been agreed by the Treasury, according to The Times.
“Capitulating to a two-year delay is a pathetic move from a fundamentally weak government,” Labour’s Deputy Leader, Tom Watson, told the Guardian newspaper.
“Those who praised the government when the announcement was made will feel badly let down. They are already rolling back on their promises and allowing these machines to ruin more lives.”
It now appears to be inevitable that a higher tax on online gaming will be introduced before the curbs on FOBTs.
“Unbelievably, Treasury thinks it takes two years for the bookmakers to run a software update on their server-based FOBTs to remove games they should never have been allowed in the first place,” a spokesperson for the Campaign for Fairer Gambling said.
“Somehow Treasury has given the bookies a longer transition period than it’ll take the government to negotiate Brexit. The delay will mean hundreds of thousands more people experiencing harm before the gambling addiction gateway of high speed, high stakes roulette is removed.”
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