Fixed-odds betting terminal (FOBT) stakes won’t be slashed to their new £2 maximum for another 12 months, according to the latest media report.
On Thursday, the Guardian reported that the UK government planned to impose the new £2 maximum stake in October 2019, angering anti-gambling campaigners who say the government has caved to the demands of the gambling industry, who want to keep their retail operations’ main money-makers humming for as long as possible.
In May, the government announced that FOBT max stakes would be slashed from their current £100 to just £2, although it remained cagey on when the change would take effect. In June, UK media reported that the stake cut would be delayed until April 2020, allegedly due to industry requests for sufficient time in which to make the necessary mechanical adjustments.
The media later reported that the public outcry that greeted this proposed delay had prompted the government to accelerate the implementation deadline to April 2019. And now this deadline has reportedly been pushed back another six months, at least, until the media reports something else.
This weekend, the Financial Times reported that Chancellor Philip Hammond planned to hike the Remote Gaming Duty (RGD) – a tax on online casino revenue, separate from online betting taxes – from 15% to somewhere between 20-25%, when he drops his new budget on Monday (29).
The FT report was largely credited for the ensuing slide in the share prices of most of the UK’s publicly traded online operators, many of which suffered double-digit declines this week from which they’ve yet to recover. Yet there were no specifics offered in the report, only a claim that the industry was “braced” for an increase to the 20-25% range, which was already public knowledge back in June.
Honestly, it would probably be extremely interesting to track the volume of short-selling positions opened on UK gaming firms prior to all these breathless reports of gambling götterdämerung. (On that note, we overheard a guy in a pub last night who said he saw Rupert Murdoch on a grassy knoll in Dallas back in 1963, so it may be time to purge News Corp UK from your portfolio.)