In the United Kingdom, the indecisive result of last Thursday’s general election could soon lead to a less than rosy future for operators of the nation’s 34,388 land-based fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
According to a report from The Daily Telegraph newspaper citing analysis from banking and financial services firm Barclays, both the minority Labour and Liberal Democrats parties had used their election manifestos to call for the maximum amount a player should be allowed to wager per FBOTs spin to be reduced from the current level of £100 ($127) to £2 ($2.54).
Although the Conservative Party, which was unable to secure an outright majority despite winning the most seats on June 8, had not used its election manifesto to support such a reduction, the newspaper reported that the subsequent decision by Prime Minister Theresa May to form a coalition government in partnership with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) could still see current FOBTs maximum stake levels slashed. This is because the DUP, upon which the Conservative Party must now depend for votes, has previously indicated its opposition to the video gaming terminals.
Barclays reportedly indicated that the make-up of the new Parliament means that the “probability of maximum stakes being cut to £2 has increased,” which could see leading operator Ladbrokes Coral Group lose up to $559 million in revenues next year, while the figure could reach as high as $366 million for rival William Hill and $74 million at Paddy Power Betfair. But, the analysis allegedly indicated that these figures could come in at about $419 million, $275 million, and $55 million if some of the lost FOBTs revenues were spent with the bookmakers in other ways.
“There remains a real risk that the triennial review will likely lead to material changes to FOBTs regulation,” read the analysis from Barclays.
The Daily Telegraph additionally reported that Barclays thinks the “base case”, which is the maximum FOBTs individual wager stake level it deems as most likely, remains at £25 ($31.82) although the Association for British Bookmakers declared that a £20 ($25.46) ceiling could see up to 2,500 of the nation’s 8,788 betting shops forced to close by 2020. The trade group moreover allegedly revealed that some 3,300 premises would be shuttered should the top stake level be reduced even further to £10 ($12.72).
“The government is currently conducting an evidence-based review of gaming machines stake and prizes and we will continue to work with and inform that process,” read a statement from the Association for British Bookmakers. “It is important to recognize that recent independent evidence has shown that there is no link between gaming machines in betting shops and problem gambling.”
The newspaper further reported that last week’s general election saw the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals All Party Parliamentary Group, which is officially investigating whether to lower current FOBTs maximum stake levels, lose two key members in Conservative Party stalwart David Burrowes and Scottish National Party relative newcomer Margaret Ferrier although up-and-comer Karen Bradley has retained her position as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in the wake of May’s post-election cabinet reshuffle.