Philip Hammond, the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, is set to block a review of fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) over concerns that a change in staking rules could negatively impact the Treasury.
According to the Daily Mail newspaper, a source close to Hammond has said that plans to cut the maximum stake on FOBTs from £100 (€110/$130) to just £2 would be “financially crippling” for the Treasury.
The government had been expected to support a reduction in stakes in response to widespread criticism of FOBTs from various campaign groups and politicians, and a review of FOBT machines had been due to take place earlier this year.
However, as recently reported by the Guardian newspaper, a rift between the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Treasury led to the review being delayed until this October.
At the time, the report said that the Treasury is concerned over the impact that a cut could have on tax receipts after FOBTs last year took in a record £1.8bn from punters in the UK.
The Conservative party, which remains in government through a power-sharing agreement with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party despite losing its clear majority in the House of Commons following a recent snap election, did not mention FOBTs in its manifesto.
However, both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have said they would cut the maximum stake to £2 if they were to come to power.