Bill to tackle ‘crack cocaine’ gambling machines launched

A Bill which seeks to significantly lower the stakes in gaming machines dubbed the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling was announced in Parliament on Wednesday.

Lord Clement-Jones’ Gambling (Categorisation and Use of B2 Gaming Machines) Bill, proposes to lower the maximum stake on Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) from £100 to just £2.

The introduction of the Bill was applauded by charity Christian Action Research and Education (CARE).

Dangerous combination

Dr Dan Boucher, CARE’s Director of Parliamentary Affairs, said: “Lord Clement-Jones has wisely recognised” that the “socially destructive implications of FOBTs” mean that this is an issue that cannot be ignored.

He added: “The £100 stake and rapid speed of play means that it is possible to lose large amounts of money in very short periods of time.

“The best way to address the problem is to end this dangerous combination by reducing the stake from £100 to £2 which is exactly what the Gambling Bill does”.

Social disruption

Lord Clement-Jones, a Liberal Democrat Peer and spokesman for Culture, Media and Sport, stressed that: “The law needs to change”.

He said: “The social disruption left in the wake of FOBTs, and growing level of public concern associated with them, is now such that the status quo is unsustainable.”

Lord Clement-Jones’ Bill came 20th in a ballot in the Lords which determines the order of introduction of private members’ bills and is therefore unlikely to gain parliamentary time.

Last year, Labour MP Tom Watson tabled an early day motion expressing ‘disappointment’ that the Government had not tackled FOBTs sufficiently.

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