This is a sponsored post by the Association of British Bookmakers.
A huge group of small and family-run bookmakers have written to the Prime Minister urging her not to cut maximum stakes on popular gaming machines to £2.
Theresa May’s government is currently considering whether to reduce the maximum stakes on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals from £100 to as low as £2 as part of a review of gaming machines.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, the group of 53 independent bookmakers – who run 350 shops employing 2,500 staff right across the country – warned such a move would have “disastrous consequences”.
They predict a £2 maximum stake would force many of their shops to close, put staff out of work, and lead to less money for the Treasury.
Urging the Prime Minister to stand by previous statements that small businesses are the “backbone of our country”, the bookies state: “We implore you not to throw small businesses like ours on the scrap heap by imposing a £2 maximum stake.”
The unprecedented letter from Britain’s small bookies follows a series of warnings that a £2 maximum stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals would have a huge human and economic toll.
Modelling by leading auditors found a £2 stake risks putting 21,000 people out of work by 2020 as more than 4,500 betting shops are forced to close.
In addition, the Treasury will lose out on more than £1 billion in taxes – denying public services like the NHS vital funds.
British Racing also warn that shop closures would have a significant short and medium term impact on their finances and estimate that they are at risk of losing £50 million per annum in funding if stakes are cut to £2.
Ministers are considering the stake cut as part of a review aimed at delivering “socially responsible growth and the protection of consumers and the communities they live in”.
But the Government’s own experts have warned against a £2 maximum stake, saying it would not be “proportionate” and could lead to “a variety of unintended and potentially harmful consequences”.
The Responsible Gambling Strategy Board – an independent body of experts which advises the Gambling Commission and Government on the national responsible gambling strategy – told ministers: “There is no compelling evidence that a reduction in maximum stakes would necessarily make a material contribution to reducing gambling-related harm.”
The 53 small bookies use their letter to the Prime Minister to insist they are best-placed to help tackle problem gambling because they know their customers so well.
And they warn: “At a £2 stake many of our family enterprises will close, our staff – including members of our own families – will lose their jobs, and all the monies to government, local councils and racing will be lost. The consequences for our businesses would quite simply be disastrous.”
The 53 signatories include bookies, with shops ranging from Midlothian to Hove.
Dominic Ford of Roar Betting, who organised the letter and who is also Vice-Chairman (Independent Operators) of the Association of British Bookmakers, said: “Independent bookies are small businesses who take pride in providing a personal, welcoming environment to enjoy gambling responsibly. Small bookies like ours are already facing huge pressures and a £2 stake would be too much to take. Many would simply not be able to carry on trading and would be forced to shut up shop forever.”
“The Prime Minister says small firms like ours are the backbone of Britain – she has the chance to prove it by making sure a disastrous £2 maximum stake never sees the light of day.”