Economy

Betting machine stakes cut to £2

Betting machine stakes cut to £2

The culture secretary Matt Hancock came under significant pressure to introduce a new cap a stakes, amid concerns for people experiencing a serious gambling problem.

Now gamblers can bet, and lose, £100 every 20 seconds meaning potentially thousands of pounds in a single session.

The move to cut to maximum stake on FOBTS, announced today by the minister for sport and civil society, Tracey Crouch, comes after a consultation with the public and the industry, which sought to find a balance between a sector that can contribute to the economy and one that is socially responsible.

"Problem gambling can devastate individuals' lives, families and communities", said sports minister Tracey Crouch. 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.

Stakes of up to £100 could be placed in quick succession.

But bookmakers have warned it could lead to thousands of outlets closing.

The government is thought to be considering a dramatic reduction in the maximum stake to just GBP2 - a move which would please campaigners but could cost jobs in betting shops across the country.

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The speed with which gamblers can lay a bet - every 20 seconds - and the maximum size of the stake - £100 - make FOBTs dangerously attractive, he said.

The government also announced measures to tighten online betting protections and television advertising and raise awareness about potential harm, and will launch a probe into the public health impact of betting. "Of course, there is more work to be done, but the Government has made the right decision".

RSPH chief executive Shirley Cramer said: "Fixed Odd Betting Machines have blighted communities and caused untold damage to the public's health, increasing the risk of debt, poor mental health, breakdown of personal relationships and suicide".

Bookmakers are nervously awaiting an official announcement on whether the United Kingdom government will slash the amount people can stake on fixed-odds betting terminals.

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.

The age limit for playing National Lottery games will also be reviewed as part of the next licence competition, with the government saying it was needed to take into account "developments in the market and the risk of harm to young people".

Changes to the FOBT's maximum limit will need parliamentary approval.


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