Global News

Betting machine stakes cut to £2

Betting machine stakes cut to £2

Britain will cut the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals to just £2 after the government rejected claims that it would damage the industry in favour of efforts to tackle problem gambling.

Users can now gamble away up to £100 every 20 seconds on the machines, which campaigners say are dangerously addictive and have been dubbed the "crack cocaine of gambling".

Culture Secretary Matt Hancock said ministers had made a decision to "take a stand" despite dire warnings from the betting industry- which reacted to the announcement by saying 21,000 people were expected to lose their jobs as a result.

In March, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) published recommendations to support the government with its review of FOBTs, including limiting stakes on slot games to £2 and non-slot games to £30.

She added: "Even cutting to £10 would leave problem gamblers, and those most vulnerable, exposed to losses that would cause them and their families significant harm".

"When faced with the choice of halfway measures or doing everything we can to protect vulnerable people, we have chosen to take a stand", said culture minister Matt Hancock in today's statement.

The maximum stake on "crack cocaine" gambling machines will be slashed from £100 to £2.

He said: "I've have heard first hand too many stories of individuals who have lost their jobs, their homes, their families and tragically in some cases their lives".

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The Swiss bank also reckons around 1,000 betting shops could close down if the bookies' worst fears were realised.

The Gambling Commission will toughen up protections around online gambling including stronger age verification rules and proposals to require operators to set limits on consumers' spending until affordability checks have been conducted.

Each generates an average of £50,000 a year for bookmakers.

"Despite the challenges presented by this decision, our teams will compete hard and offer great service to William Hill customers".

Ministers are understood to have concluded that a £2 stake is needed to protect vulnerable gamblers.

To cover any hit to the public finances, the government said the change will be linked to an increase in remote gaming duty, paid by online gaming operators, at the relevant Budget.

Chief executive Peter Jackson said the announcement was a "positive development for the long-term sustainability of the industry" and the company highlighted factors that could mitigate the impact.

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.


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