We comment on speculative media reports of a 2 year reprieve for FOBTs but earlier increase in RGD

An article in The Times on 15 June entitled “Bookies won’t have to curb fixed-odds stakes for two years” has resulted in a flurry of gambling industry media articles, including in SBC News entitled “UK Government to implement online tax rise before FOBT stake cuts” and on CalvinAyre.com entitled “UK to hike remote gaming duty before slashing FOBT stakes”.

The speculation that HM Treasury has agreed to delay the reduction in maximum FOBT stakes until April 2020 (one year later than had originally been anticipated), whilst nevertheless intending to introduce an increase in remote gaming duty in the April 2019 Budget (leading to what EGR calls “a year of double taxation”), relates to:

  • the decision in last month’s UK Government review of gaming machines and social responsibility measures to reduce the maximum stake on an FOBT [B2 gaming machine] from £100 to £2 and
  • accompanying Government announcements:
    • on the DCMS website stating that “changes to the stake will be through secondary legislation. The move will need parliamentary approval and we will also engage with the gambling industry to ensure it is given sufficient time to implement and complete the technological changes” (as reported by us on 17 May), and
    • also on the DCMS website stating that: “In order to cover any negative impact on the public finances, and to protect funding for vital public services, this change will be linked to an increase in Remote Gaming Duty, paid by online gaming operators, at the relevant Budget” (as also reported by us on 17 May). 

Clarification is awaited from the Government and, until that is received, any further media reports on the subject will remain speculative.