Vested interests behind flawed FOBTs report – bookmakers' body
The Association of British Bookmakers has described a report which claims the economic cost of cutting fixed odds betting terminal stakes to £2 has been overestimated as flawed and funded by vested interests.
The analysis was carried out by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) for arcades group Bacta (British Amusement Catering Trade Association) as the government continues its consultation on gambling, including the maximum stake on FOBTs.
Ministers have said they will reduce the maximum stake from £100 and the consultation sets out a range of options from £2 – which Bacta is calling for — up to £50.
The CEBR analysis projects that betting industry losses from a £2 stake could be up to 47 per cent lower than suggested by the government’s initial impact assessment of £639 million, claiming instead that it would result in a £335m reduction in annual gross gambling yield for high street betting shops.
It went on to say the consequent loss in tax revenue could be offset by less being spent on problem gambling and by benefits elsewhere in the economy.
However, the ABB claimed the report contradicted Bacta's argument that a £2 stake would protect customers from gambling harm.
The bookmakers' body has its own research which claims that a £2 stake would lead to 4,500 shop closures, 21,000 job losses and £1.1 billion lost tax revenue by 2020.
An ABB spokesperson said: "This is a flawed report, funded by those with vested commercial interests, with no access to betting shop industry data.
"The Treasury's own analysis, with detailed betting shop data, has estimated that the net negative cost to the UK economy of a £2 stake would be a staggering £8.5bn at worst over the next ten years, and £5.5bn at best."
The report is the latest salvo in the war of words between the ABB and Bacta, whose members are not allowed to have the category B2 gaming machines found in betting shops.
Bacta chief executive John White said: "This research puts into clear perspective the true impact of a £2 stake on FOBTs on our economy and should provide comfort to bookmakers that doing the right thing and reducing the maximum stake on FOBTs to £2 will still leave them with plenty of profit to invest in their businesses."
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