Councils slam delay to crackdown on addictive betting machines

Gamblers will lose an extra £3.6 billion if the Government continues to drag its feet over a crackdown on addictive betting machines, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).

In May, in a widely welcomed move, ministers announced a cut in the £100 maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) to just £2.

But media reports have said the change will not come into effect until 2020 after a Treasury ‘deal’.

‘Problem gambling’

The LGA, which represents councils in England and Wales, campaigned for a reduction in the maximum stake to £2.

Simon Blackburn, chairman of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said the crackdown should be introduced sooner.

He believes the crackdown will “help to reduce problem gambling and its devastating impacts on individuals and communities”.

‘Prevent further harm’

Mr Blackburn added: “The harm and anti-social behaviour these machines can cause has become an issue of growing national concern.

“Councils are extremely concerned about reports that the betting industry are blocking an early implementation.

“This is hugely worrying and frankly unacceptable. The Government needs to resist any pressure and move quickly to implement these changes to prevent further harm in our society.”

‘Social blight’

The Gambling Commission has already said that on average £5 million a day is lost by gamblers on FOBTs.

This could amount to as much as £3.6 billion if a change is not introduced until 2020.

When the cut was announced, the then Culture Secretary Matt Hancock described FOBTs as a “social blight” which “prey on some of the most vulnerable in society”.

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