British Bookies Fighting for FOBTs

In response to reports that the British government intends to tighten the reins on bookies, the Association of British Bookmakers composed a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron explaining the effects on industry jobs as a result of taxation and regulatory changes.

The Association projects that such changes to the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals will result in an industry loss of GBP 350 million each year and eliminate 2,000 betting shops.

Chancellor George Osborn revealed in last month's budget that increased machine taxation will end up costing bookmakers approximately GBP 75 million a year.

"We have asked the Gambling Commission to consider whether the GBP 250 and 30 minute limits before a pop-up message appears are too high and too long," said a spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

"We want a successful gambling industry but not at the expense of player protection and will announce our plans on this soon," the spokesman said.

Big names in the industry including William Hill and Ladbrokes believe that evidence to indicate that FOBTs boost problem gambling is lacking.

"This dialogue has made the unexpected and punitive measures recently announced in the Budget, even more difficult to comprehend," according to the letter, which included the signatures of industry leaders such as chief executives of William Hill, Ladbrokes and Ireland's Paddy Power.

The letter also said, "It is often forgotten that we are the only sector that pays more in tax than we make in profit and contribute GBP 1 billion to the Exchequer.'

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