The amount of money lost to the ‘crack cocaine’ of betting machines fell dramatically last year, coinciding with the introduction of a £2 maximum stake.
The maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) was lowered from £100 to £2 per 20-second spin in April 2019.
In the twelve months prior, gamblers lost over £1.1 billion on the machines, but there has since been a sharp decline.
Gambling Commission figures from October 2018 to September 2019 show gamblers lost £624 million on FOBTs.
However, these figures include a six-month overlap with the previous reporting period, meaning future figures are likely to demonstrate an even greater decline in losses.
Matt Zarb-Cousin, from campaign group Clean Up Gambling, said: “This data shows FOBT stake reduction has reduced the volume of losses and resulting harm on the most addictive content on bookies’ machines.”
MPs are calling on online betting firms to introduce a similar £2 stake to protect vulnerable people.
In April, Carolyn Harris MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Gambling Related Harm, and Vice Chair Iain Duncan Smith said the gambling industry must prove that it “is willing to ensure that vulnerable customers are put before profits”.
Writing in The Times the MPs pointed out that, unlike betting shops, there are no “stakes, prize or deposit limits in the online world. It is possible to bet thousands of pounds in a matter of minutes from a mobile phone with no supervision.”
Over half of Britain’s gamblers bet online, usually on a smartphone. In 2018, they lost £5.6 billion on online bets, according to the APPG.
Former gambling addicts reveal the damage done by FOBTs