‘Theresa May has moral duty to cut FOBT stakes’

The Government has a “moral duty” to reduce the maximum stake on betting machines, Peers and MPs have said.

A letter to The Times, signed by more than 40 parliamentarians, urged the Prime Minister to make the decision “in the best interests of our country”.

The Government has committed to lowering the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) from £100, and has said it will choose from four options ranging from £2 to £50.


The letter said: “FOBTs cause much social harm and huge losses for those who can least afford it.”

The signatories said it was ‘profoundly concerning’ that in over 230,000 instances users lost more than £1,000 in an individual session.

The letter accused FOBTs of “driving violent crime and money laundering”, and called on the Government to protect “the most vulnerable in our society, including poorer communities, families and children”.

Exaggerated claims

The machines have been linked to problem gambling, which the Centre for Economics and Business Research estimates costs the UK £1.5 billion annually.

The letter said: “Parts of the gambling industry speak of the potential loss to the economy if these machines are restricted to £2.

“Yet the CEBR finds that the impact has been exaggerated.”


The letter comes as a decision to lower the stakes to £2 was opposed by Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Esther McVey.

A Times editorial suggested that McVey’s opposition made it more likely that the upper limit would be set at £30 instead of £2, and urged the Prime Minister to “make it clear that she has no intention of doing so”.

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