The UK government came down hard on the gambling industry earlier this year after legislators took the decision to lower betting stakes on fixed odd betting terminals (FOBTs) and reduce the maximum bet from £100 to just £2. The roll-out was expected to take place this year and cost the gambling industry in the country billions of dollars.
Government Changes Its Decision On FOBT Implementation
The government decided to crackdown on FOBT’s due to the growing concern of that problem gambling was significantly increasing in the UK and that FOBTs were playing a major role as these betting machines are found all over the country and are highly favoured by gamblers.
FOBT’s are reported to generate £1.8 billion in revenues each year and the FOBT market provides employment to thousands of employees. The government took all this into consideration and still decided to lower FOBT stakes as it put the well-being of its citizens over the lucrative gambling market.
The government announced this week that it had decided that it will not force FOBT operators to implement the maximum £2 stake rollout in 2018 but will give them time till 2020. The government made this deal after holding discussions with the treasury and the announcement angered the opposition party and gambling opponents.
A government spokesperson said that the decision was made in order to give FOBT operators more time to make the necessary software changes which were essential for a successful rollout of the new FOBT policy. FOBT software providers apparently need more time to customize their software to ensure that the maximum bets they can accept is fixed at £2.
Labor Party Criticizes Government’s Decision  
The opposition party was quick to denounce the government’s decision to give FOBT providers as much as two years to get things in order. There were reports that FOBT manufacturers had earlier stated that they would only need between 6 to 8 weeks to customize their software but that has now changed to 24 months.
In a statement, Tom Watson, leader of the Labor party said “Capitulating to a two-year delay is a pathetic move from a fundamentally weak government. 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.”
Anti-Gambling Groups Breathe Fire On Government’s Decision  
The Labor party wasn’t the only group that was seething at the government’s decision. Anti-gambling groups who had fought long and hard to reduce FOBT stakes were thrilled when the government announced that it would lower stakes to £2. They thought they had won the battle only to find out a few weeks later that the government decided to change its decision.
A spokesperson for Fairer Gambling stated that the decision was unacceptable as the government was giving FOBT operators more time than what was needed for Brexit. By continuing to allow FOBTs to operate as usual, the government runs the risks of exposing thousands of problem gamblers to these same machines and increase gambling addiction in the country.
There were also allegations made that the government had given into to the powerful gambling lobby who had succeeded in getting the government to use the ‘more implementation time’ excuse to continue to operate FOBTs as usual. Anti-gambling operators are also concerned that the government might backtrack or change its decision in the next 2 years on the maximum stake of FOBTs as betting operators continue to put pressure and pull strings in high places.
Betting Operators Set To Profit
When the government made the decision earlier this year to reduce the maximum bets of FOBTs to £2, betting operators were aghast as they were set to lose billions of pounds. FOBTs generate a significant portion of gambling revenues and a reduction from £100 to £2 on the maximum bet would force multiple operators out of business.
Now that the decision has been delayed for 2 years, gambling operators will breathe a sigh of relief.  Bookmakers in the UK are expected to make a combined total of £4 billion during the next 18 months as a result of the government’s decision to delay the FOBT maximum stake implementation.

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