Gambling stakes cut welcomed
Legislation: Fixed odds limit slashed
Machines with a reputation as the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling have had their risk reduced by maximum stakes being cut to £2.
Gambling ‘puggies’ or fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBT) currently allow users to bet up to £100 every 20 seconds.
The scale and speed of losses, often to vulnerable gambling addicts, has led campaigners to call for action to stem the damage.
Research from Landman Economics has shown those caught in the grip of the machines lose an average of £192 a month.
The announcement by the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) was welcomed by Aberdeen Central MSP Kevin Stewart, who has fought for years for such action.
“Addiction and subsequent debt caused from FOBTs has resulted in tragic consequences and ruined lives as well as taken them,” he said.
“Beyond this longawaited progress, though, we must continue to press the UK Government for an outright ban on these machines,” he said.
“At the rate it took the Conservatives to get moving on simply lowering the maximum bet, it could be some time before they truly see sense on this.”
West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Andrew Bowie, a DCMS parliamentary private secretary, said: “It is very often the most financially vulnerable people in our communities that are most at risk from these highly addictive machines.
“Lowering the maximum bet to £2 will directly benefit people on lower incomes.
“This reduction will provide a safeguard against severe losses for those who can least afford to pay up.
“It is one of several steps being taken by the UK Government to ensure the gambling industry acts responsibly.”
SNP MP Ronnie Cowan, vice-chairman of the allparty parliamentary group on FOBTs, said: “It’s a step in the right direction to address gambling-related harm and to begin to mitigate the number of problem gamblers in the country.
“Having heard numerous testimonies and stories from individuals whose lives have been ruined by these machines it was clear that drastic action must be taken.
“But it’s imperative we go further, such as tackling the link between young people and gambling, the prevalence of online gambling, and whether it’s time to introduce a compulsory levy for the bookmakers to fund GambleAware and tackling gambling-related harm.”
“We must... press the UK Government for an outright ban”
GAMBLING: Maximum stakes for fixed-odds betting terminals are being cut to £2