Employees of British bookmaker Betfred are bracing for the possible impact of UK’s policy on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), which is expected to be announced this week.
SkyNews reported that at least 4,500 Betfred workers are at risk of losing their jobs should the UK government decide to impose a new maximum stake limit of £2 (US$2.70) on FOBTs. At present, the maximum stake on FOBTs stands at £100 ($135.08).
Betfred Managing Director Mark Stebbings said the government can only blame itself for the possible mass layoff since the firm will be left with no choice but to close almost 900 of its loss-making betting shops to stop the potential financial bleeding once the rumored FOBT reform is implemented.
Stebbings estimated that the company stands to lose an annual £50 million ($67.5 million) should the ministers insist on slashing the FOBT stake limit to £2. In a letter to members of the home affairs sub-committee, the Betfred executive offered a compromise that will see a more reasonable reduction of max FOBT stakes to between £20 and £30.
“Working in conjunction with the Gambling Commission we believe these stake ranges would protect vulnerable gamblers, limit the number of job losses and the impact of livelihoods in the betting industry, and would protect some jobs in the racing industry,” Stebbings said in his letter, according to the news outlet.
Betfred was one of many bookmakers making a last-ditch plea against the implementation of the FOBT stake reduction before the government announces the results of its long-running gambling review, which was initiated almost two years ago.
William Hill, which analysts said will be the most exposed to the measure, made a warning on Tuesday that the new wagering rules will make the firm an easy target for a foreign takeover.
Roger Devlin, chairman of William Hill, expressed fear that the government will make a decision “that is unnecessary and lacking in evidence,” at the expense of tens of thousands of jobs across the gambling sector. Devlin also pointed out that the UK gambling industry was already “extremely well regulated.”
Gambling analysts noted that casinos and online gambling operators will feel the pinch of the latest FOBT rules since the government will be looking to other sources of gambling to recuperate the losses it will incur by capping the stake in gambling terminals.