In a rare slice of positive news for Britain’s retail sector, the government has announced a two year delay before implementing the controversial £2 stake on fixed- odds betting terminals.
The delays makes all the difference for betting shops, both independently-owned and the large plcs, who will have a considerable amount time to wean themselves off the terminals – either by pushing more sales online or supplying shops with new products.
“Changes to the stake will be made through secondary legislation,” the treasury announced to the media. “We will also engage with the gambling industry to ensure it is given sufficient time to implement and complete the technological changes.”
Barclays banks said that while the £2 stake is “a negative for the sector having the implementation date pushed back past 2020, will mean the “impact to profits is less bad than feared.”
The move was obviously met with outrage from those anti-gambling campaigners. Labour MP Carolyn Harris, chairwoman of the all-party parliamentary group against FOBTs said she was “astounded that the Treasury has done a backroom deal that will be paid for by gambling losses from some of the most vulnerable in our society. To cosy up to a corporate lobby group like this and delay the implementation is totally unacceptable.”
Oddly William Hill was singled out as “socially irresponsible” for continuing to offer FOBTs in their shops after the announcement, despite the new rule not having come into force.