The UK’s recent reduction in stakes on fixed odds betting terminals has created social responsibility measures that are "fit for purpose," says the Regulatory Policy Committee, a government body charged with providing external, independent scrutiny of new regulations.
The DCMS, the government ministry responsible for the gambling industry that had initiated the recent reduction in stakes on Category B2 (FOBTs in bookmakers' shops), did so, it says, to reduce gambling related harm.
The Regulatory Policy Committee says that at the start of the process of reducing the stakes, the UK had 33,611 FOBTs, 191 in casinos and the rest in betting shops, of which the country had 8,677 in March 2017. They had a gross gambling yield of £1.8bn. The DCMS now believes that the imposition of the limitations on stakes will cost the industry £540m.
The GGY losses, says the RPC, may be mitigated by players choosing to gamble at a lower level for longer, with sessions estimated to last on average 28 per cent longer. Other estimates show that the number of people who will no longer play FOBTs may be reduced by 10 per cent.
The report used a recent study by the Institute for Public Policy Research to illustrate the consequences and costs of gambling related harm to society and another report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research that suggested that FOBT gamblers were placing a cost upon themselves and their families of £1.5bn, although the DCMS was unable to substantiate these estimates.
However, the CEBR report said that the potential reductions in gambling related harm in terms of health, welfare, employment, housing and criminal justice services may be between £430m and £1.3m annually.
The report suggests that some improvements to the process of gathering data and analysis might be introduced, including an even closer working relationship between the DCMS and the Gambling Commission to develop a monitoring and evaluation strategy. It also suggests that the DCMS considers the potential impact of electronic, notes and coins payment methods on staking behaviour.