We launched Stop the FOBTs in 2013 because the evidence showed these machines were the most harmful form of gambling. A low maximum stake is the most effective mechanism to reduce harm and addiction, so we are delighted the government made the evidence based decision to back a reduction to £2. But now Treasury are trying to put the brakes on implementation – with The Times revealing it could be as late as 2020!
Dear Mr Hammond and Mr Jenrick,
When the Conservative government announced its decision to reduce the maximum stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) to £2 a spin, it did so on the basis that these machines are a “social blight”, with Secretary of State Matt Hancock stating that to protect the vulnerable it was necessary to “shun half-measures”.
Evidence related to FOBTs has been rigorously assessed, after a lengthy consultation period which began in 2016. The government’s decision to cut the stake to £2 reflects how much damage this particular form of gambling is doing to individuals and communities. It is therefore inexcusable to delay the stake reduction for longer than necessary.
It is understood that Treasury wanted to recoup any potential lost tax revenue by increasing tax for remote gambling before the £2 stake on FOBTs is enacted. Economic modelling by Dr Howard Reed has shown that tax revenue is likely to increase as a result of a reduction to £2, given FOBT losses would instead be spent in more productive areas of the wider consumer economy.
Nevertheless, there is no reason why the “point of consumption” tax for remote gambling cannot be increased by April 2019. I am writing to urge you to reconsider any delay in implementing the reduction to £2 on FOBTs beyond April 2019.
I look forward to hearing from you.