The UK gambling industry has done nothing but flourish over the past decade. As UKGC data from 2017 states, the British gambling industry currently has a gross gaming yield of nearly £14 billion, with online gambling accounting for about £4.7 billion of the total sum.
In 2018, legislators finally realised that the growth and prosperity of the gambling industry has been detrimental to British gamblers. The UK is currently on the brink of a state-wide problem gambling crisis, which has served as a major driver of change in UK gambling laws. The same year, regulators passed several bills which are to take effect in 2019 or later.
Legislative changes that will affect the gambling industry
According to The Guardian and the Daily Mail, the British government has plans to increase the online gaming tax in 2019, and there are also plans to implement the FOBTs’ maximum stake reduction in 2012. The two daily newspapers have found that these moves come in direct response to critics’ opinion that there are not enough funds for the recovery of problem gamblers in the country.
POC tax increase
At present, the POC tax online gambling operators are required to pay stands at 15%. This tax was first introduced back in 2014, when it was used as a means to tax British citizens using online casinos that might be based outside the country, but still get income from them.
The Guardian has found out that the planned tax increase is 21%, and it is expected to make up for the losses caused by the maximum stake cut on FOBTs, which is expected to cost the exchequer about £1.15 billion over a period of five years.
As mentioned on CasinoGuardian.co.uk, a number of online gaming platforms have already complained about the tax, claiming that such a big increase puts pressure on them to raise their prices in order to compensate for losses. Furthermore, gambling operators are unhappy that they will have to weather two radical changes within a short period of time – namely, the reduction of the maximum bet amount on FOBTs and the increase of the POC tax.
Regardless of the complaints, the POC remains as a way for the government to provide equal opportunities for every gambling operator on UK soil.
It is still unclear when the POC tax increase will take place, but the Treasury says it should be done in early 2019. Things are not all roses for FOBTs, though.
FOBTs maximum stake reduction
In May 2018, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport decided to cut FOBTs maximum wager from £100 to merely £2, as they are a “social blight”. Whereas the maximum stake reduction was supposed to take place in 2019, however, legislators decided to postpone it to April 2020.
According to the Guardian, the Treasury is expected to lose more than £100 million each year as a result of the postponement of FOBTs maximum stake. Nevertheless, £100 million is far less than the £457 million the exchequer collected in tax from these machines, and this is thought to be the major factor that caused the delay.
The reason legislators have given for postponing the cut on FOBTs’ maximum stake has to do with operators’ inability to cope with a move that will have such a big impact on the industry as a whole. According to the Mirror, land-based bookmakers have opposed the early implementation of the maximum stake cut on FOBTs, as it potentially forces them to close up shop and leave many people without jobs.
The decision to postpone the cut on the maximum bet has not been embraced unanimously by all legislators, though. In fact, Labour Party legislators strongly opposed the delay, claiming that there is no reason whatsoever to impose such a long delay of nearly 2 years.
It should be noted that the Treasury has not yet confirmed whether April 2020 is the time when the £2 limits will be imposed, but they did justify their decision, by claiming that the rules are being changed in order to balance the needs of those who gamble responsibly and work in this sector. In addition, legislators have commented that operators should be given enough time to cope with the changes.
The Association of British Bookmakers has embraced the decision to delay the limits, confirming that having extra time will help them adjust with the changes and even avoid shop closures and job losses.
Overall, two major changes to the gambling industry are to take place in the following years – namely, these are the reduction of FOBTs’ maximum stake and the increase of the POC tax, which will affect not only gambling operators, but also players as well.