Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Gambling machines to be limited to £2 stakes

Gambling machines to be limited to £2 stakes

The maximum permitted stake on controversial fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) will be cut from £100 to £2, the government has announced after ministers ignored pleas from bookmakers.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said that it wanted to reduce the potential for large losses on the Category B2 machines.

The clampdown, announced by the Government, is created to reduce the harm of gambling to players and the wider community.

In July past year, The News joined forces with Portsmouth City Council to impose a restriction on FOBTs. These machines are a social blight and prey on some of the most vulnerable in society, and we are determined to put a stop to it and build a fairer society for all.

From as far back as 2005, when the Labour Government liberalised gambling laws, The Christian Institute has been raising concerns about the "highly addictive" FOBTs.

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But campaigners concerned about the social impact of FOBTs pressed for a reduction to a maximum stake size of £2.

The Association of British Bookmakers (ABB), which has previously opposed a possible crackdown on the industry, now warned that the decision would probably have a detrimental impact on the local bookmakers, with more than 4,000 betting outlets expected to close and about 21,000 employees in the industry set to lose their jobs.

Bookmaker William Hill, which generates just over half its retail revenues from FOBTs, described the United Kingdom government's decision as "unprecedented" and warned that 900 of its shops could become loss-making, potentially leading to job losses.

25-year old Adam Bradford, who has campaigned for stricter gambling controls on FOBTs after his father hid a 30-year gambling addiction, has welcomed the decision.

"We are increasing protections around online gambling, doing more on research, education and treatment of problem gambling and ensuring tighter rules around gambling advertising". "No longer will gamblers be able to run into serious trouble on the High Street and betting has been restored to a leisure activity".

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The decision is a major victory for a number of churches, including the Church of England, the Methodist Church, the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the Church of Scotland which have all campaigned on the issue.

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Mr Millar, who holds an annual conference in Cardiff on problem gambling, called FOBTs a "public health menace which ruin people's lives".

As part of the wider review, the government has also announced a series of other measures it said will help to protect punters, with the Gambling Commission charged with bolster protections around iigaming, including stronger age verification rules and proposals to require operators to set limits on consumers spending until affordability checks have been conducted.

To cover any hit to the public finances, the government said the change will be linked to an increase in remote gaming duty, paid by online gaming operators, at the relevant Budget.

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