Fixed odds betting machines maximum stake slashed to £2

Top stake for fixed-odd machines is slashed to £2			
				 
   by Joel Taylor 
  Published

New rules on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) - described as the "crack cocaine" of gambling - will come with tax rises on bookmakers.

The machines are used by thousands of betting shops across Britain, and have helped offset a decline in revenue caused by the growth in online gambling. It added that the limit could result in around 900 of its high streets shops becoming loss-making.

The new rules for the popular electronic casino-style games, like roulette and bingo, follow a government review.

"The government has handed us a tough challenge today and it will take some time for the full impact to be understood, for our business, the wider high street and key partners like horse racing", said William Hill chief executive Philip Bowcock. She also took part in the Government's written consultation and called for a £2 maximum stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals.

The move to cut to maximum stake on FOBTS, announced today by the minister for sport and civil society, Tracey Crouch, comes after a consultation with the public and the industry, which sought to find a balance between a sector that can contribute to the economy and one that is socially responsible.

The campaign has secured the widespread support with the General Synod of the Church of England, 93 local authorities, the Royal Society for Public Health and politicians from all parties supporting the campaign. Gambling addiction is a real worry for some families and I think it is appalling how some betting companies have targeted poorer communities to put certain machines in.

The speed with which gamblers can lay a bet - every 20 seconds - and the maximum size of the stake - £100 - make FOBTs dangerously attractive, he said.

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Bookmaker William Hill, which generates just over half its retail revenues from FOBTs, described the United Kingdom government's decision as "unprecedented" and warned that 900 of its shops could become loss-making, potentially leading to job losses.

The Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRG) has amended its code to ensure that a responsible gambling message will appear for the duration of all TV adverts.

"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".

As part of the next licence competition the age limit for playing National Lottery games will be reviewed, to take into accounts developments in the market and the risk of harm to young people.

The government, which said the change would need parliamentary approval, pledged to engage with the gambling industry to ensure it was given sufficient time to implement and complete the technological changes.

In order to cover any negative impact on the public finances, and to protect funding for vital public services, this change will be linked to an increase in Remote Gaming Duty, paid by online gaming operators, at the relevant Budget.

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