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Cutting FOBT stake could cost bookmakers £150m

Leading bookmakers in the UK could lose at least £150m (€166.5m/$199.6m) in annual revenue, should the government opt to introduce a new limit on stakes for fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBT).

The machines have been the subject of much debate for some time, with various campaign groups and MPs calling for the maximum stake to be cut from £100 to just £2.

The government is expected to recommend this new limit when it announces the findings of an ongoing review next month and, according to the Financial Times newspaper, this could have serious ramifications on bookmakers.

Citing sources close to the planning, the newspaper said that the government will put forward a number of options: no change to the maximum stake on the machines; cutting it to £2 as demanded by activists; or a compromise figure of either £20 or £30.

Should the government opt for the latter option, this means bookmakers could miss out on approximately £150m in revenue each year.

However, if a new maximum stake of £2 is introduced, then the impact would be much higher, with the likes of Ladbrokes Coral, William Hill and Paddy Power Betfair citing FOBTs as a key source of income.

The bank forecast states that if the maximum stake was cut to £25, Ladbrokes Coral would lose £87m in revenue for 2018, while William Hill would miss out on £55m and Paddy Power Betfair £10m.

The government is yet to comment, but one Whitehall source said there is “still a long way to go yet” before a final decision is reached.

Meanwhile, a senior executive at a gambling company told the newspaper: “If there are four options on the table, you don’t want to count your chickens. It’s a massive concern that £2 is still on the table, as it would close half the industry.”

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Source: EEGaming.