Bookmakers' profits could be set to take a massive hit as the government unveils plans to reduce the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) from £100 to between £2 and £50.
The department of digital, culture, media and sport (DDCMS) has today launched a 12 week consultation on a range of options for tackling problems with FOBTs, which usually come in the form of roulette-type games in high street betting shops.
|What has the government proposed?|
The package of measures put forward by DDCMS includes:
"It is vital that we strike the right balance between socially responsible growth and protecting the most vulnerable, including children, from gambling-related harm," said gambling minister Tracey Crouch.
"Given the strong evidence and public concerns about the risks of high stakes gaming machines on the high street, we are convinced of the need for action. That is why today we have set out a package of proposals to ensure all consumers and wider communities are protected.
"We have seen online gambling grow rapidly and we need to protect players in this space, while also making sure those experiencing harm relating to gambling receive the help they need."
While the limit on FOBT stakes is set to be drastically reduced, DDCMS said the government "is content with industry proposals to increase takes from £1 to £2 and prizes from £70 to £100".
Analysts have warned that reducing the limit on FOBTs poses a real threat to bookies' balance sheets, as a large portion of revenue comes from the machines. The three companies most at risk from today's announcement are likely to be William Hill, Ladbrokes Coral and Paddy Power Betfair.