Talks between the Gambling Commission (GC) and UK MPs have confirmed that stakes on online casino sites could be capped at just £2 following a discussion in the next six months. The news has caused some unrest among gambling shareholders, causing industry stock values to to tumble more than £500m.
The GC has been under pressure from the Gambling Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group (GRH APPG) since last October. A report called for the industry regulator to consider a £2 stake limit for all online gambling sites, including casino, bingo and slots. The GRH APPG’s suggested new stake limit follows the identical changes implemented in 2019 across all Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) in pubs and bookmakers.
Whilst this proposed change in stake limit might be a good step for reducing the harm that high roller bets can have on problem gamblers, the negative effects on the gambling industry are already being felt. One of the UK’s biggest bookmakers William Hill reported reduced revenue in 2019 after the new £2 stake limits cut their FOBT revenue by 39%
Luckily for William Hill, an increase in sports book revenue was able to level out the losses, but online bingo sites might not be so fortunate. Now these changes could be making their way online in as soon as 6 months, gambling industry investors are jumping ship.
Since the news broke that discussion to determine the future of online stake limits will be held in the next 6 months, shares in William Hill have fallen nearly 8%. The owner of betting giants Ladbrokes and Coral, GVC has suffered a 7% stock drop, as have gambling software provider Playtech.
By the end of Thursday, 13th February, a total of over £500m in value has been lost, which could signal how these changes will affect the industry as a whole. As with a lot of panic selling, the markets could level out over the next few days or weeks.
However it is yet to be seen whether the positive effects on players will outweigh the negative effects on the industry. Until the GC makes a decision in the next 6 months, it seems like investors are choosing to bet against the gambling industry.