Penarth’s betting shops are now cutting opening hours and reducing machine-gambling stakes in advance of the new gambling legislation announced last night.
All the major betting companies have premises in Penarth and all have the notorious machines which could see punters wagering up to £100 a time.
The target of the new regulations are a highly sophisticated version of what once used to be called “fruit machines” . The new computerised terminals – with eye-catching screen displays – are called “fixed-odds betting terminals” (FOBTs) . They allow customers to bet up to £100 every 20 seconds on electronic casino games such as roulette.
The UK Government’s Culture Secretary Matt Hancock describes these machines as “a very serious social blight” – but betting shops now stand to lose a massive slice of their annual £1,800,000,000 income from the machines in the light of the new rules – which could force thousands of them to close. Of that, the government itself pocketed 25% in tax. To cover the shortfall the Government is TO increase Remote Gaming Duty on casino games.
Already in Penarth, Ladbrokes in Stanwell Road have stopped people making £100 bets on the machines and have already introduced a new lower stake-limit of £50. The only customers who can still bet up to £100 a time are those with special credit facilities
From Monday June 6th Ladbrokes are also reducing their shop-opening hours and will open only from 10:30 to 19:00 from Monday to Thursday, will shut at 19:30 on Fridays and Sundays, and at 18:30 on Saturdays.
The other betting shops in Penarth are also reducing opening hours and have already slashed permitted stakes.
Opponents say the new Government regulations amount to “prohibition“. The Government says all this is being done to help “very vulnerable people…who lose thousands of pounds on the machines “. The betting firms point out that what the restrictions will really do is push “vulnerable customers” to gamble on the internet – where there are no restrictions.
The government has also to account for its own stance on the National Lottery which is described as “a tax on the stupid” – and in which 55% of every customer’s stake is whipped away in deductions for alleged “good causes and charity” and is never added to the prize fund.