The Government has been urged to significantly reduce the maximum stake on Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs).
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on FOBTs will release a report advising ministers to cut the maximum stake from £100 per spin to £2 when they make decisions on how to curb problem gambling in the new year.
Currently, gamblers can wager up to £100 every 20 seconds on the machines known as the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling.
Duty to vulnerable
The report comes at the end of a six month review by the group, chaired by Carolyn Harris MP, and is supported by MPs from all the main parties.
Harris said: “The Group sees a strong case for the stake being set at £2. This call is supported by many members of Parliament from all political parties and in both houses of Parliament. It is also supported by a significant majority of the public.”
“The Government has a duty to protect the most vulnerable in our society and to act in the public interest. We therefore strongly urge them to properly regulate FOBTs and to do so with immediate effect”, she added.
Impact on families
The interim findings provide an overview of the full report which will be submitted to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport as part of the Government’s call for evidence. The outline highlights the wider harm caused by FOBTs.
It states: “It is critical that the Government considers not just the impact on ‘problem gambling’, but wider gambling related harm caused by the FOBT machines and the cumulative impact on families and communities that these machines can have”.
The findings urge MPs to increase the length of time of each spin to “reduce the potential for harm to be caused”.
It also advises the Government to review the number of FOBTs allowed in betting shops, and also to give councils extra powers to prevent clustering of betting shops.
On one high street in London alone, there are 18 betting shops – more than any other road in Britain.
A Government consultation on gambling closed on Sunday, and ministers will decide early next year how to limit the harmful effects of gambling.
Alongside FOBTs, they will consider TV advertising, amid concerns children are becoming normalised towards gambling.