Gambling companies claim a crackdown on addictive betting machines will have a “catastrophic” effect, in a letter urging the Government to back a softer option.
Despite numerous stories of how the machines have devastated lives, bosses from William Hill, Betfred and the owners of Ladbrokes claim a dramatic cut would be “disproportionate”.
Ministers are set to make a decision on cutting the maximum stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) in the coming weeks.
In the letter, sent to every Cabinet minister, the gambling leaders predict a £2 stake will be “catastrophic for retail betting in the UK”.
Adding: “We urge you not to sacrifice betting shops.”
Opponents of FOBTs say the companies are scaremongering.
The Campaign for Fairer Gambling claimed people would use other forms of gambling if the FOBTs were reigned in.
It said: “Not only do these machines have a parasitic effect on local economies, they’re also the crack cocaine of gambling.
“If we had a gambling product classification, similar to that of drugs, FOBTs would be class A.”
In October the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport suggested four alternatives for cutting the maximum stake – £2, £20, £30 or £50.
But in March the Gambling Commission proposed a maximum of “at or below £30”.
Earlier this year The Guardian spoke to people who had suffered as a result of FOBTs.
Former gambling addict Martin Paterson said he “ended up going crazy” using the machines.
“Before I knew it there were four machines in a shop and I’m being offered free spins.
The newspaper also spoke to ‘Ray’ who lost his house and business because of his FOBT addiction.