Ministers cut betting machine stakes from £100 to £2

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Following analysis of consultation responses and advice from the Gambling Commission, the government said it believes a cut to £2 will best achieve this.

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.

With tighter curbs and higher taxes in their home market, the companies are likely to seek to expand across the Atlantic.

The decision is likely to encourage bookmakers to seek new sources of revenue, a trend that's already under way with Paddy Power Betfair Plc's announcement Wednesday that it's in talks to expand into US sports betting.

"Chief executive Philip Bowcock told the BBC a £2 FOBT limit would have a devastating impact on the High Street betting industry, with up to half of Britain's betting shops facing threat of closure and about 20,000 jobs going".

You will also see FOBTs in casinos and at racetracks as well, but most can be found in the bookies, with each betting shop allowed no more than four on their premises but over 34,000 of them now across the UK. William Hill said about 900 of its shops, or 38 percent of the total, could become unprofitable as a result of the limit on bet size.

Another major United Kingdom high street brand, Paddy Power Betfair, added: "We've consistently called for a significant stake cut which would take this issue off the table, so we're pleased that the Secretary of State and Government has acted so decisively".

GVC, which bought into retail exposure with its Ladbrokes deal late last year, said cutting the top stake on gambling machines would mean a reduction of around 160 million pounds ($216.5 million) in its core earnings in the first full year.


"Although we are ultimately disappointed with the outcome of the Triennial Review, it is a decision we accept", said GVC Holdings CEO Kenneth Alexander.

The British government has not set an exact timetable for implementing the changes, Hancock, the minister responsible for the sector, said.

Shares in all three fell in early London trading on Thursday, with William Hill hit hardest.

Miss Crouch said: "Problem gambling can devastate individuals' lives, families and communities".

Changes to the stake will need to be brought through leglislation and will need to be approved by parliament.

The government's action, which marks the biggest regulatory change in the United Kingdom gambling industry since rules were liberalised in 2005, was welcomed by charities, the church and opposition politicians.

The government also announced measures to tighten online betting protections and television advertising and raise awareness about potential harm.

The decision is a victory for campaigners against the excesses of the gambling industry, including a number of Christian groups.

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