UK: Will Hill Tries to Soften Government on FOBTs Prior to Final DecisionLuke Haward, CDC Gaming Reports · May 16, 2018 at 11:33 amThe final decision on fixed odds betting terminals is expected from the UK government this week or next, and some major bookmakers have been scrambling to apply last minute pressure to the government on the subject amidst widespread speculation that the maximum reduction is the most likely decision. That would reduce the max stake per play to a mere £2, the current lowest stake option on the machines.The national press has reported that it gained access to a letter penned by William Hill’s new chairman, Roger Devlin, to Matt Hancock, Secretary of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. In the letter, Devlin allegedly claims that the decision to implement the maximum reduction would leave William Hill, a major UK firm, vulnerable to a takeover bid from overseas. The same letter was apparently sent to Prime Minister Theresa May last week.“Consolidation within our sector continues and I would…not want to see the impact of a disproportionate triennial (review) outcome being a factor in… William Hill being added to the list of companies now in foreign ownership. At William Hill, we have a long and proud commitment to the UK, and I do not want this to change,” Mr. Devlin wrote, as reported by Sky News.Whether the government would much care about a foreign takeover of a British firm is up for debate; they are probably much more concerned, to be brutally honest, about the known impacts of the decision, such as potential job losses and a hit to tax revenue. Still, with the clock ticking on a final decision, desperate times call for last ditch measures, I suppose.William Hill and other firms of the type have had a fortuitous turn of fortune recently; the US Supreme Court’s decision Monday to overturn a national ban on sports betting provides a window for expansion to many international firms. This is arguably exactly the kind of news they needed as the prospects for the UK high street cloud over, and the timing is neatly coincidental as both decisions will take place within the space of about a week. I fully expect all major British bookmakers to be devoting a lot of attention and effort across the Atlantic from now on, and to begin worrying just a little bit less about domestic prospects, despite the dour times on their doorsteps.