Gam­bling stakes cut wel­comed

Fixed odds limit slashed

The Press and Journal (Moray) - - NEWS - BY JEN­NIFER MCKIER­NAN WEST­MIN­STER RE­PORTER

GAM­BLING: Max­i­mum stakes for fixed-odds bet­ting ter­mi­nals are be­ing cut to £2 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”

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