Hammond Must Not Jeopardise Chance of Finally Reducing Stake on Harmful FOBTs

Monthly archive

7th Aug 2017
Rachael Adams
  • Tax revenue must not dictate long overdue action needed to regulate ‘crack cocaine of gambling’

CARE is alarmed by reports over the weekend that Chancellor Philip Hammond has apparently called for the Government’s review of gambling to be scrapped, questioning specifically the reduction in the maximum stake per spin of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs).

FOBTs have been linked closely to crippling debt, crime, mental health issues, marriage and family breakdown and in extreme cases – suicide.

The machines, dubbed the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’ are highly addictive; gamblers can bet £100 every 20 seconds on the machines. FOBT’s contributed to 96 per cent of all losses over £1,000 in betting shops.

At the beginning of the year The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) published its report on the machines highlighting the devastating impact that FOBTs have had on society and called on the government to act.

There has been continuous support from both the general public, the media and from Members of Parliament across all political parties to significantly reduce the £100 stake that can be wagered on FOBTs down to £2.

Reports suggest the reason for scrapping the review is the considerable tax revenue that FOBTs generate each year for the Government - around £400m in tax a year.

CARE’s Chief Executive Nola Leach

“CARE is very disappointed that the government appears to be placing much more value on the tax revenue collected from these machines than to the harm they cause to society and to vulnerable people.”

“FOBTs are predominantly found clustered in economically deprived areas and it is a growing concern that their presence there deliberately targets vulnerable people.”

“Theresa May’s government was supposed to be defined around the idea of creating a Britain that works for everyone, but it’s clear that FOBTs do not fit into this narrative. FOBTs may work for the bookmakers and the taxman – but not for problem gamblers, their families or society as a whole.”

“If additional revenues need to be raised then we urge the Prime Minister and Chancellor to find other means of doing so that do not depend on the exploitation of vulnerable people.”

“Any suggestion that a reduction in the maximum stake to £2 should be dropped because of the possibility of some potential Conservative rebels does not stand up to scrutiny because, in addition to their own members, the Government could depend on the support of the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties for whom this is a manifesto commitment.”

“The Government’s gambling review was much needed and timely. There has been no comment so far about the other aspects of gambling covered by the review that needed to be addressed such as making sure the right measures are in place to protect the young and vulnerable from gambling advertising.”

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 is a leading charity that works with MPs, Peers, MSPs, and MLAs to lobby for changes in legislation relating to human dignity. You can read about the success we’ve had and our latest work here.

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.

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