UK FOBT stake cute set for April 2019
After months of controversy, debate, and general drama, UK lawmakers are pressing forward with a stake cut on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBT) and a major tax hike on online casinos. The new changes will be implemented in April of 2019, nearly six months earlier than was previously anticipated.
Word of the new timeline was announced yesterday by culture secretary, Jeremy Wright. Wright’s announcement stands in direct contradiction to the timeline set by chancellor Philip Hammond, who said the stake cuts and tax increases would not be implemented until October of 2019. That six month difference may not seem like much to the layman, but it represents huge dollar amounts to UK operators. According to a report in the Guardian, moving the timeline forward could cost operators as much as £900 million ($1.5 billion USD) in lost revenue.
In a written statement, Wright explained the decision to move forward the timeline saying, “The government has been clear that protecting vulnerable people is the prime concern, but that as a responsible government it is also right to take the needs of those employed by the gambling industry into account and provide time for an orderly transition. Parliament has, however, been clear that they want this change to be made sooner. The government has listened and will now implement the reduction in April 2019.”
Controversy surrounding when the FOBT stake cut and tax increase should take place has burned through the UK government and resulted in everything from resignations to plain old hurt feelings. Labour deputy leader Tom Watson summed up the controversy saying, “Whilst this is a personal humiliation for Jeremy Wright, this is a very good day for the many thousands of people whose families and communities are blighted by gambling addiction.”
The new stakes and taxes will, of course, be a major burden for UK operators who can all expect to see reduced revenues beginning in April.