MPs are making a final demand for the Government to cut the maximum stakes for fixed-odds betting terminals to £2, after the Treasury reportedly dropped its opposition.
Currently the highly addictive gaming machines allow users to gamble £100 every 20 seconds, but the Government has decided this will be cut to between £50 and £2.
The Gambling Commission was criticised last month after it said the maximum stake should be set “at or below £30”, and campaigners are once again pushing for the biggest possible cut.
Cost of gambling
Calls to limit the maximum stake to £2 had reportedly been opposed by the Exchequer because the machines generate more than £450 million a year in tax receipts.
However, this is less than a third of the estimated £1.5 billion problem gamblers cost the Government every year in areas such as addiction treatment, counselling, and support for the homeless.
Shares in bookmakers fell dramatically after it was reported that Chancellor Philip Hammond and Exchequer Secretary Robert Jenrick MP indicated they would not oppose the maximum cut.
Writing in The Times, MPs Carolyn Harris, Chair of the all-party parliamentary group on the machines, and Iain Duncan Smith urged the Government to adopt the £2 maximum.
They pointed out that gamblers who lost more than £1,000 in a single session were often at the lower end of the income scale.
“It is morally questionable that the government derives significant gaming duty revenue from those who can least afford it”, the MPs said.
They also highlighted the detrimental effect of FOBTs on wider society, saying the machines drive violent crime and money laundering.
Reducing the stake to £2, they argued, would protect the vulnerable, tackle the rising number of problem gamblers in the UK, and reduce the amount of FOBT-related crime and violence.