Independent bookies appeal to Theresa May over FOBTs

Independent bookmakers in the United Kingdom have made a written appeal to Prime Minister Theresa May, imploring the disregarding of a proposed £2 Fixed Odds Betting Terminal (FOBT) maximum stake.

Ahead of government judgement on proposed wagering reduction, various representatives issued a reminder and agreement with May when she stated “From dynamic start-ups to established family firms, our small and medium sized businesses are the backbone of our country,” and a desire to “want to build an economy that works for all, and that means working with, and listening to, smaller firms.”

However, in an era when “betting shops are already closing at an alarming rate,” the independent bookies state that a £2 maximum stake will essentially represent a ban on FOBTs and as a result throw small businesses onto the scrap heap.

Discussing the potential fallout of such a stark reduction in its letter, independent bookies state that: “Customers will not play FOBT games at this staking level as they are unable to spread their bets and de-risk their play.

“These are gaming customers who will not switch to betting on horses or football but will simply go online or to other venues and we will not be able to compete or trade as viable businesses.

“At a £2 stake many of our family enterprises will close, our staff – including members of our own families – will lose their jobs, and all the monies to government, local councils and racing will be lost. The consequences for our businesses would quite simply be disastrous.

Before urging the government to, in essence, consider advice from within: “The government’s own advisers, the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB), warn “we would find it difficult to regard so strong an action (cutting from £100 to £2) as being proportionate on the basis of the existing evidence” and could lead to “a variety of unintended and potentially harmful consequences.”

Another key area of discussion is responsible gambling, with the letter highlighting stringent staff training and insisting good customer service in part of their DNA: “We are not faceless companies. We are small businesses who know our customers well, and have survived in the face of stiffer and stiffer competition from major operators, the expansion of online gambling and the National Lottery.

“We care about our customers and know most of them by name. We know if they have had a bad day or have been enjoying a family celebration, we offer them teas and coffees and a chat, and a place for them to meet their friends and enjoy their leisure pursuit in a friendly, safe and responsible environment.”

Concluding, the independent bookies added: “If you really want to help problem gamblers then we are best placed to help you achieve that. We implore you not to throw small businesses like ours on the scrap heap by imposing a £2 maximum stake.”

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