Ministers vow to 'protect the vulnerable' by slashing maximum stake on 'crack cocaine' gambling machines from £100 to £2
17 May, 2018, 14:03
Matt Zarb-Cousin, a spokesman for the Campaign for Fairer Gambling but was previously addicted to FOBTs, told the BBC: "It's no exaggeration to call FOBTs the crack cocaine of gambling".
In March, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) published recommendations to support the government with its review of FOBTs, including limiting stakes on slot games to £2 and non-slot games to £30. The decision is a victory for campaigners against the excesses of the gambling industry, including a number of Christian groups.
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said that it wanted to reduce the potential for large losses on the Category B2 machines. It has just slashed the maximum stake on controversial gambling machines to £2 ($2.7, 2.3 euros) per spin, as it vowed "to protect the most vulnerable in society" from harmful losses.
The opposition Labour Party's deputy leader Tom Watson said on his Facebook page: "This announcement signals the end of the reign of destruction and misery that FOBTs have brought on the lives of gambling addicts and their families and communities for too many years".
In a statement on the United Kingdom government website today, Matt Hancock, secretary of state for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), commented: " When faced with the choice of halfway measures or doing everything we can to protect vulnerable people, we have chosen to take a stand.
Bookmaker William Hill branded the decision a "tough challenge" and warned it could see around 900 of its betting shops become loss-making, with a "proportion" at risk of closure after the new £2 limit comes into effect.
"We welcome, therefore, the significant intervention by the government today, and believe this is a positive development for the long-term sustainability of the industry".
The Gambling Commission will toughen up protections around online gambling including stronger age verification rules and proposals to require operators to set limits on consumers' spending until affordability checks have been conducted.
- A multimillion-pound advertising campaign promoting responsible gambling.
"It is also welcome to see that Public Health England will be looking into gambling related harm which simply doesn't have the support it now needs".
It pledged to work with the gambling sector to ensure it has sufficient time to introduce the stake reduction and technological changes.
- A review of age limits for National Lottery games at the time of the next licence competition.
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