Govt needs to act quickly to stop ‘FOBT misery’

Peers have called on the Government to move more quickly in tackling addictive betting machines.

A cut in the £100 maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) to £2 was announced in May.

However, according to news reports, the change will not come into effect until 2020 after a Treasury ‘deal’.

‘Causes misery’

Speaking earlier this week, former cabinet minister John Gummer, now Lord Deben, slammed the delay.

“This is a Treasury matter and the reason it is being held up is precisely because of that last point—the Treasury makes money out of it”.

He added: “This is not right. We want this change because this gambling causes misery and ought not to continue”.


And Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, described how the initial “delight” when the cut was first announced has now turned into “puzzlement and dismay”.

“We know that these machines cause bankruptcy, family breakdown and in some cases even suicide.”

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Minister Lord Ashton of Hyde claimed the delay was due to other considerations, such as employment.

‘Social blight’

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”.

The Local Government Association (LGA) pointed out last week that gamblers will lose an extra £3.6 billion if the cut does not come in until 2020.

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

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

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