gambling machines

Govt climb-down over FOBT stake reduction delay

14th Nov 2018 - Rachael Adams
Today the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced that the stake cut on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) would now happen by April 2019.

It’s a stunning victory for campaigners and MPs from all across the House of Commons who came together to force the Chancellor’s hand.

The maximum stake cut from £100 to just £2 was announced in May 2018 by the DCMS.

The Treasury initially indicated it wanted the cut to happen by April 2020 because of concerns over lost tax revenues.

However, following pressure from MPs it seemed as if some arrangement had been struck to make sure the reduction happened by April 2019.

Then, in his recent Budget on October 29, the Chancellor said the cut would in fact take place in October 2019.

Despite the resignation of former Sports Minister Tracey Crouch, the Government refused to listen and was facing the prospect of being the first Government in 40 years to lose a Budget vote after amendments were tabled to the Finance Bill (No 3) which would have the effect of bringing the cut forward to April 2019.

The amendments were signed by nearly 90 MPs from all across the House of Commons, including former Cabinet ministers.

FOBTs are dubbed the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’ and are highly addictive; gamblers can bet £100 every 20 seconds on the machines. FOBTs contributed to 96 per cent of all losses over £1,000 in betting shops and have been linked closely to crippling debt, crime, mental health issues, marriage and family breakdown and in extreme cases – suicide.

Responding to today’s announcement, CARE’s James Mildred said:

“This is a very welcome decision and the Government is to be commended for doing the right thing.

“It’s a real shame it had to come to this.

“The devastation that these machines have wrought are well-documented and any delay would have put more people at unnecessary risk.

“FOBTs are predominantly found clustered in economically deprived areas and it has been a huge concern that their presence there deliberately targets vulnerable people.

“This reduction in stake will significantly decrease the harm these machines cause as it will no longer be combine with a toxic high speed play.

“This is only the first step though. The damaging effects of gambling are becoming more visible across society and the Government must introduce legislation to tackle this.

“With an estimated 430,000 adults and 25,000 children classed as problem gamblers in the UK the Government cannot sit on the side-lines any more.

“Current gambling legislation is not working for anyone, including children and young people across Britain. Instead it has a led to an epidemic of children problem gamblers.

“The landscape has significantly changed over the last few years in relation to gambling, with technological developments and increased betting options. We can’t simply rely on outdated law and voluntary codes to tackle the UK’s gambling problems.

“The Government needs to accept that inaction is going to make Britain’s problem gambling public health crisis worse and unless change is forthcoming, it’s going to be children who are losing out.”

ENDS

Notes to the editor:

For more information please contact Rachael Adams on 020 7227 4731 / 07851 153693 or rachael.adams@care.org.uk

CARE has spoken out about the damage of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals for many years and CARE’s Director of Parliamentary Affairs gave evidence at the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) and called on the Government to reduce the stakes on the machines from £100 to £2 per spin.

CARE has long spoken out about the harmful effects of FOBTs on individuals and society and advocated for the reduction of stakes for FOBTs, noting the link between problem gambling and proliferation of betting shops with FOBTs: Research shows link between problem gambling and proliferation of betting shops with FOBTs

England's poorest bet £13bn on gambling machines – Amount gambled on high-speed machines in deprived boroughs is double that staked in richest areas, report claims

Wheel of Misfortune: the case for lowering the stakes on FOBTs – ResPublica and Fairer Gambling report, Oct 2017

CARE has previously helped facilitate events in Parliament where recovering problem gamblers have been able to relate to parliamentarians the devastating effects of gambling addictions on their lives and on the lives of their families.

CARE Polling on problem gambling:

Problem gambling is a huge concern in Britain today, with research showing that 14.5 million people – almost 10 per cent – of the population know someone personally with a gambling problem.

Research also shows that 63% per cent of people in Britain think that gambling is now a significant issue in Britain today.

66% of men (61% of men and women) are unhappy with the current arrangement in which the Government encourages the gambling industry to make voluntary contributions to help care for problem gamblers. 66% of men agreed in a ComRes poll that the level of industry contributions should be increased and that it should be made compulsory. The total value of such contributions last year was just £8 million – 0.06% of Gross Gambling Yield.

ComRes interviewed 2,036 GB adults online between 19th and 21st January 2018. Data were weighted to be representative of all British adults aged 18+ by age, gender, region and social grade. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

See details of the poll here: http://www.comresglobal.com/polls/care-gambling-research-january-2018/

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