Earlier this week, Theresa May announced the outcome of the cabinet reshuffle which has sparked fears into the minds of anti-gambling campaigners. One new appointment in particular has worried such organisations. The incoming culture secretary, Matt Hancock has a number of ties to the horse-racing industry and has previously voted against tighter regulations regarding the betting industry on six different occasions.
Matt Hancock’s constituency is West Suffolk, home to Newmarket racecourse (one of the most popular horse-racing venues). Whilst he denies any wrongdoing, there have been reports of ties between the two. This has worried anti-gambling supporters who have spoken out regarding the new culture secretary’s appointment.
With The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) terminating its review on the betting industry and specifically FOBTs, the timing of this appointment couldn’t come at a worse time for anti-gambling campaigners.
What are FOBTs
FOBTs (fixed odds betting terminals) are gambling machines located in many high-street bookies. Gamblers can potentially lose up to £100 every 20 seconds. These machines are known as the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling due to their addiction and harm they cause. It’s common for players to chase losses making their addictions even worse. The more you lose, the more you want to continue gambling and win back those losses. It’s a never ending spiral.
On the other hand, FOBTs are one of the only things keeping the high-street betting industry running. In figures reported by the Gambling Commission, the revenue FOBTs produced rose from £1.76 billion to £1.82 billion in a year, despite 3% fewer machines. As you can see, FOBTs generate a huge revenue for high-street bookies.
Overall gamblers lost an average of over £54,000 per machine. A ridiculous amount when you look at it from the gambler’s point of view. But an insane revenue for each gambling shop which pays for staffs’ wages and ultimately keeps betting shops on the high-street.
Government FOBT crackdown
The Government are supposedly cracking down on fixed odds betting terminals in their upcoming review, restricting the amount you can wager to between £2 and £50. However, since the cabinet reshuffle, anti-gambling campaigners are worried the harshness of any restriction will be suppressed.
According to the Association of British Bookmakers, cutting the stake on FOBTs to £2 will lead to thousands of lost jobs, damage the horse-racing industry and reduce taxes paid to the Government.
Carolyn Harris, a Labour MP said:
‘Historically, Matt Hancock has had close links to the horse-racing industry.
I would strongly urge him to continue with the government’s important work of tackling the many harms caused by FOBTs.
Any change in this policy would clearly be a significant U-turn by the government at a very late stage in the process.’
Whilst Labour have been very critical of the betting industry since they introduced the Gambling Act in 2005, it’s true that more restrictions need to be in place with regards to FOBTs. However, it will be a shame to see job losses and more high-street bookie closures if the restriction is too tight.
Does this affect matched betting
The success of high-street bookies doesn’t really affect how profitable matched betting is. Furthermore, you’ll notice there’s been no mention of any online bookies in this article.
It’s no secret, the online betting industry is doing incredibly well. Year-on-year sales are increasing and the bookies are ultimately making more money.
This is great for matched betting!
We want the online betting industry to thrive. The more money bookies make, the more likely they are to offer free bets and promotions to new and existing customers. It’s these incentives that we can make a guaranteed profit from with matched betting.