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UK MPs Called for a £2 Stake Cut on Online Slots, Gambling Firms Started Losing Their Market Value

- November 6, 2019 By Oliver Young -

Even though the UK Gambling Commission does everything in its power to make a fair and responsible gambling environment, it seems it is never enough, according to the UK cross-party MPs. The number of problem gamblers is always either stagnating or increasing, and the MPs have a new plan to handle the problem.

Remember when they managed to get the maximum stake on FOBTs cut from £100 to £2? Well, according to the MPs from the Gambling Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group, the same should happen to online slot machines. But that’s not all they request.

A stake cut on online slots requested by MPs, causing an instant drop in shares and market value of UK gambling companies.

A stake cut on online slots requested by MPs, causing an instant drop in shares and market value of UK gambling companies.

MPs Request for a £2 Stake on Online Slots

When the stake cut from £100 to £2 was introduced in land-based shops with FOBTs, many leading UK operators complained about the revenue loss they experienced. William Hill sent out 2,000 letters to landlords asking them to reduce rents and eventually had to close many shops due to the overall loss it experienced. Many smaller operators were also doomed. And even though the industry was hit hard, no progress was really made on the decreasing of the number of problem gamblers and the vulnerable. Why is that, you might ask?

Well, according to the MPs from the GRH APPG, online casino games are the problem. In fact, the party’s Chairman Carolyn Harris MP said that it was not really clear why the UK Gambling Commission has not already cut the stakes on online slots, highlighting the disparity in deposit, stake and content limits control between online and offline slot games. She said she sees no reason why online slots should have stakes above £2, criticising the UKGC and saying that it was an abdication of its responsibility as a regulator.

The party reviewed the current situation in the UK, with the aid of gambling operators, charities, problem gamblers, banks and academics, and then offered some recommendations. Among the recommendations, the MPs first called for further action from the Government and the UKGC to combat problem gambling. They emphasized the urgent need for a thorough review of online gambling regulation and urged the Government to review the provision of education, research and treatment sector. Then, they recommended the stake cut on online slots, but also tackled two important aspects, the credit card gambling ban, first introduced by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, and the VIP accounts and Loyalty schemes encouraging vulnerable players and problem gamblers to gamble more. As the Vice-Chair Duncan Smith put it, it was outrageous how players were allowed to play with high stakes using credit cards. The other Vice-Chair Ronnie Cowan added that extracting as many funds as possible from these players was wrongdoing well covered with NDAs, which needs to be stopped right away, with radical actions.

Gambling Firms Receive Another Hit

In mere hours after the MPs published their recommendations, the UK gambling companies received another major blow. Close to £1.2 billion loss in value was recorded.

888 received the biggest blow in terms of value, losing 14% of its value in one single day. It experienced a cut in market value by £91 million. GVC was also badly hit, having lost £547 in value and 10.5% fall. William Hill, which already lost a lot due to FOBTs stake cut, now reported a £230 million loss, Flutter Entertainment reported £217 million and Gamesys £78 million decline.

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