Paddy Power Betfair has become the first major bookmaker in the UK to declare its support for a planned curb on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
The machines have been the subject of debate for some time, with campaign groups and a number of MPs calling for the maximum stake to be cut from £100 (€114/$134) per spin to just £2.
The government is widely expected to recommend this limit when it announces the findings of an ongoing review next month, and Paddy Power Betfair has now seemingly thrown its backing behind the plans.
According to the Financial Times newspaper, Breon Corcoran, chief executive of Paddy Power Betfair, has said in a letter to Tracey Crouch, the Minister at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the issue has become “so toxic” that decisive action is required to “address societal concerns”.
The letter said: “Whilst we are not aware of any evidence which links stake size to problem gambling, we are acutely aware of the increasing reputational damage to the gambling industry that has followed lack of progress in this area. We now believe that the issue has become so toxic that only a substantial reduction in FOBT stake limits to £10 or less will address societal concerns. I am confident we could operate our retail business successfully and profitability under such circumstances. Other well-run operators should be able to do the same.”
Corcoran’s reported comments come after the Financial Times earlier this month said that Paddy Power Betfair could lose up to £10m in revenue should planned changes go ahead.
Citing a bank forecast based on if the maximum stake was cut to £25, Ladbrokes Coral would also lose £87m in revenue for 2018, while William Hill would miss out on £55m.
According to Barclays bank, the £10 limit proposed by Corcoran would see Paddy Power Betfair lose out on £32m.…