A letter from Bacta national president Gabi Stergides “received attention” from the Prime Minister in the week leading up to government’s decision to push forward the date of the £2 maximum stake implementation on FOBTs.
On 2 November, Stergides sent a letter to the government outlining the need for an April 2019 implementation date, rather than the proposed October 2019 timeline. On 12 November, Stergides received a reply from 10 Downing Street thanking him for his letter, and stating: “Your correspondence is receiving attention”. Indeed, it was only two days later that the government caved in to mounting bipartisan pressure, and brought forward the implementation date to April 2019.
In his letter to Theresa May, Stergides wrote: “The Government’s decision to reduce the stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) from £100 to £2 was, as you know, absolutely the right decision for the Government to have made in May this year. I am highly disappointed to hear however that the implementation date for the reduced stake will be October 2019.
It is now three years since the Government first began consulting on reducing the FOBT stake. Since then over £3.65bn has been lost, often by the most vulnerable in our society. By October 2019 over £5bn would have been lost.
This cannot continue and it is also of course morally unacceptable for the Government to continue to take revenue from FOBTs, which in turn take money often from those who can least afford it.
“We know that making the technical changes to FOBT machines is quite simple. Bacta, as the trade association for the amusement machine industry, has heard from games manufactures that if an implementation date of April 2019 was set, they would more than be able to meet this. It is also entirely possible just to remove all B2 and B2/B3 hybrid content games very quickly.
“As has been reported, a significant number of Conservative as well as cross-party MPs are rightly angered by the latest news that the implementation of the reduced stake is being delayed further, and are calling for an April 2019 implementation date. It is also hugely disappoint- ing to see such a dedicated Minister resign from the Government over this issue, but it is clear that the Government are on the wrong side of this debate and must act now to rectify this situation. It is not too late.
“There is no reason why an implementation date of April 2019 cannot take place”.