Outrage over ‘cowardly’ cuts to harmful FOBTs

The Gambling Commission “chickened out” of decisive action to limit the harmful nature of Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), critics have said.

Yesterday, the gambling watchdog recommended a cut from a maximum stake of £100 per spin to £30 on the dangerously addictive betting machines known as the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’.

But MPs and campaigners say the commission should have gone further by clearly recommending a cut to £2 per spin.

‘Outrageous’

Carolyn Harris MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on FOBTs, said it was “outrageous” that the Gambling Commission was not “brave enough” to recommend a £2 limit.

She said the machines were a “blight” on lives and that it was essential for society and individuals that “the social consequences of these machines are limited by reducing the stake to £2”.

She added: “I think it’s a bit of a cop out if I’m honest, they’re covering their own backs.

“The Gambling Commissioner hasn’t shown any backbone. It’s really, really short sighted and taking the coward’s way out.”

‘Chickened out’

Labour MP Jim McMahon said he was “disappointed” by the commission’s report, but tweeted: “I hope Gov go further.”

The Gambling Commission recommends the maximum stake be “at or below £30”. This gives Ministers the freedom to go for a limit less than £30, with either £20 or £2 as touted options.

Matt Zarb-Cousin, spokesman for the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, said: “By refusing to plainly demand limiting bets to a £2 figure, it seems that the gambling watchdog has chickened out of decisive action.”

He added that he hoped the Government would “hold its nerve and come to the right decision”.

The Gambling Commission’s report is not binding, and the Government will now weigh up the recommendations.

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