MPs: FOBT review could be ‘tragically ironic’ for racing
An influential group of MPs has claimed it would be “tragically ironic” should racing benefit from levy reform only to lose “hundreds of millions” of pounds if a wrong turn is taken over gaming machines.
The comment came from the All Party Parliamentary Group for Racing and Bloodstock, whose joint chairmen Laurence Robertson (Con) and Conor McGinn (Lab) said they were “pleased that the levy issue has been resolved to the benefit of racing”.
But they added: “We now hope the government will take an evidence-based approach when carrying out its triennial review and in particular over the issue of regulating Fixed Odds Betting Terminals.
“We believe it would be tragically ironic for racing to benefit by tens of millions from extending the levy, only to lose potentially hundreds of millions if the wrong approach for the wrong reasons is taken in relation to this issue.
“We will therefore continue to encourage all concerned to work together to ensure that racing and bookmakers prosper, in the interests of horseracing and everyone connected with the sport.”
In April the government pushed through reforms of the levy that extended the system to offshore operators for the first time, a move that promises to bring in an extra £30m to £40m in income for the sport.
Last week Tracey Crouch, the minister with responsibility for gambling, told the House of Commons the findings of the review, which had been expected in the spring, had been delayed by the calling of the general election and could not be expected until October at the earliest.
Campaigners, politicians and sections of the media have called for the maximum stakes on the machines to be cut to £2 from £100 to tackle the issue of problem gambling.
The betting shop industry has claimed this would lead to thousands of betting shops closing, which would mean racing losing out on millions of pounds of income from levy and media rights payments.