William Hill in last-ditch FOBT plea to May
WILLIAM HILL’S new chairman has issued a last-ditch plea to Prime Minister Theresa May as the gambling industry braces for a “catastrophic” clampdown on controversial betting machines.
Roger Devlin, who became the bookmaker’s chairman last month, argues that the Treasury will lose £1bn and 20,000 jobs will be put at risk if maximum stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTS) are cut from the £100 they are now to £2.
A decision is expected this week. The FTSE 100-listed bookmaker derives about a fifth of its revenues from FOBT machines, which critics believe are a major cause of problem gambling. But in a letter to Mrs May, seen by
The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Devlin said that a £2 stake was “unnecessary” and the case for it “lacking in evidence”.
“There is no evidence to warrant a reduction in stakes to anything as low as £2,” he said, adding that such a move would push players into less protected environments. He said William Hill supported a ban on pre-watershed TV adverts and the imposition of a levy to fund research into problem gambling.
However, he urged Mrs May to “deliberate before making any decision”. Mr Devlin requested a meeting with the Prime Minister’s team to “explain why the level of stake you are proposing is so very disproportionate and will have such a negative impact on jobs”.
The Government published its triennial review in October but opted for extra consultation on FOBTS, offering stake options ranging from £50 to £2.