Bookmakers’ initiatives could be ‘jeopardised’ by FOBT £2 stake rule racing staff leader warns
Racing staff leader George McGrath has issued a stark warning that initiatives, funded by bookmakers which provide vital help for his members, could be in jeopardy if the government introduces a £2 limit on fixed-odds betting terminal (FOBT) stakes.
Mr McGrath, of the Newmarket-based National Association of Racing Staff (NARS), was speaking after last week’s announcement that thanks to a £100,000 deal with Britain’s largest independent bookmaker Jenningsbet, the association would be able to expand its educational programmes for racing workers to include qualifications in mentoring, leadership and team skills.
“This is exactly the kind of grass roots support that would be the first to suffer if bookmakers are faced with severe restrictions on FOBTs,” said Mr McGrath.
The government is set to unveil a shake-up of FOBTs which exist in thousands of bookmakers across the UK at any time. Cutting the bet-per-spin to about £30 had been suggested but ministers are considering a limit of £2 a move, which some research has suggested would cut revenue for the Treasury by £1.1 billion over three years, an annual loss of £45 million to local authorities and £50 million to British racing.
“We fully support a reduction in the maximum stake,” said Mr McGrath, “but I can see no logic in cutting it to less than the price of some National Lottery Scratchcards. I have every confidence that government will take a balanced view and take into consideration the education and welfare of those who would suffer most if partnerships like ours were to come under undue pressure.”
The funding from Jenningsbetwill enable up to 28 students each year to study for the ILM Level 2 Introduction to Mentoring and ILM Level 2 Award in Leadership and Team Skills on a 12-week course delivered by West Suffolk College, with the first enrolments in September.
Greg Knight, head of Jenningsbet, said, “Racing has identified a problem in retaining young people coming into racing and we think a mentoring system in which experienced racing staff are taught how to bring through the next generation will be an important tool.