Campaigners say it is “totally unacceptable” and “inexcusable” that the Government is dragging its feet over a crackdown on addictive betting machines.
Last month, in a widely welcomed move, ministers announced a cut in the £100 maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) to just £2.
At the time it was unclear how long the change would take to introduce, but media reports now say it will not come into effect until 2020 after a Treasury ‘deal’.
Vulnerable to pay
Carolyn Harris MP said: “I am astounded that the Treasury has done a backroom deal that will be paid for by gambling losses from some of the most vulnerable in our society.
“To cosy up to a corporate lobby group like this and delay the implementation is totally unacceptable.”
Matt Zarb-Cousin, a former gambling addict turned anti-FOBT campaigner, called the reported move “inexcusable”.
‘Work with industry’
The Government defended its actions by saying it was “taking time to work with industry to ensure that there is enough time to implement all of the changes”.
However, The Times reported that machine manufacturers privately say they only need eight weeks at most to roll out the change.
Ahead of May’s announcement, gambling companies had mounted fierce resistance to the change.
GVC Holdings, which owns Ladbrokes, said at the time it was “disappointed” with the outcome. Betfred claimed the Government’s decision was “disproportionate”.