‘Government must act to curb damaging impact of FOBTs’

The Government has been urged to take action on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) by a former Cabinet Minister.

Iain Duncan Smith said the machines were a “tax on the poor” and can lead to “problem debt, crime and family breakdown”.

Currently, gamblers can wager up to £100 every 20 seconds on the machines, known as the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling.

‘Damaging impact’

Mr Duncan Smith, who is the founder of the Centre for Social Justice think-tank, has called for ministers to cut the maximum stake on FOBTs to £2 per spin.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, he said: “It is essential the Government acts now to curb the damaging impact of fixed betting terminals.

“These machines constitute a tax on the poor. Lowering the maximum spend for each bet will slow down the rate at which money can be lost.”

‘Vicious spiral’

The former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions added: “High stakes gambling leads to problem debt, crime and family breakdown. It is detrimental to mental and physical health and employment prospects.”

“We must reduce the number of people falling into this vicious spiral of poverty.”

A new report by the Centre for Social Justice reveals that the number of FOBTs in the UK has reached an all-time high of 34,809. An estimated £1.7 billion is lost on the machines each year.

The Government’s gambling review of the harmful nature of FOBTs is expected to be concluded later this year.

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