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United Kingdom cuts top stake on gambling machines to £2

17 May 2018

Bookmakers should come under pressure on Thursday after the United Kingdom government confirmed it will cut the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBT) to £2 from the current £100 in a bid to curb problem gambling.

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

The move comes after a public consultation and advice from the Gambling Commission.

Figures published by stopthefobts.org show Deeside punters put almost £7.5m into the high stakes machines in 2016.

It's very concerning that these machines are disproportionately found in the poorer parts of society and therefore are having a devastating effect on some of the most vulnerable in society.

The FOBT touch-screen machines allow players to bet on the outcome of various games such as roulette. "It's sad that huge profits seem to be of more importance than the wellbeing of the most vulnerable".

However, the move has prompted criticism from gambling companies, which have claimed the move puts thousands of jobs and hundreds of betting shops at risk.

Miss Crouch said: "Problem gambling can devastate individuals' lives, families and communities".

In a statement on the United Kingdom government website today, Matt Hancock, secretary of state for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), commented: " When faced with the choice of halfway measures or doing everything we can to protect vulnerable people, we have chosen to take a stand.

Civil society minister Tracey Crouch, who is MP for Chatham and Aylesford, said the machines were being curtailed to "stop extreme losses by those who can least afford it".

The government said the Gambling Commission would also toughen up protections around online gambling such as stronger age verification rules and proposals that require operators to set limits on gamblers' spending until affordability checks have been conducted. It vowed to engage with the gambling industry to ensure it was given sufficient time to implement and complete the technological changes.

A major multi-million pound advertising campaign promoting responsible gambling, supported by industry and GambleAware, will be launched later this year.

"It is also welcome to see that Public Health England will be looking into gambling related harm which simply doesn't have the support it now needs".

Changes to the stake will need to be brought through leglislation and will need to be approved by parliament.

It added that the reduction would be linked to an increase in Remote Gaming Duty, a tax paid by online gaming operators, in a bid to protect the amount of income it gets from the industry.

United Kingdom cuts top stake on gambling machines to £2