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Dame Margaret Hodge welcomes consultation into fixed odds betting terminal stake cut

PUBLISHED: 11:25 31 October 2017

Barking MP Dame Margaret Hodge has welcomed the announcement. Picture: Daniel Hambury/PA Wire

Barking MP Dame Margaret Hodge has welcomed the announcement. Picture: Daniel Hambury/PA Wire

Dame Margaret Hodge has welcomed government plans for a 12 week consultation on whether to cut the maximum stake allowed to be placed on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

The Barking MP spoke out after culture minister Tracey Crouch revealed plans to cut the maximum stake from £100 to between £2 and £50.

She said: “I am pleased the government are reviewing the stakes of fixed odds betting terminal machines.

“Betting shops have been blighting our highstreets, targeting vulnerable people and causing antisocial behaviour.

“It’s about time the government took action to protect my constituents from these addictive machines.”

The announcement was also welcomed by industry representatives.

John White, chief executive of Bacta, the trade association for the amusement and gaming machine industry in the UK, said: “Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction on FOBTs, and a welcome acknowledgement by government of the dangers posed to gamblers by high-stakes FOBTs.

“We do however urge government to cast aside the notion of a £50 stake as it will have little to no impact.

“It is only through a truly substantial reduction that we can effectively protect consumers from the risk of gambling harm.

The high-stake, high-speed electronic casino games are said to be dangerously addictive and currently allow a stake of up to £100 every 20 seconds, allowing a player to theoretically gamble away £18,000 an hour.

Research in 2015 found that gamblers in Barking and Dagenham were losing almost £9 million a year by betting on the digital machines.

The announcement is part of a package of measures announced in the government’s gambling review.

Raising standards of player protection for online gambling, a responsible gambling campaign and new advertising guidelines are among a raft of suggestions designed to help minimise the risk to vulnerable people and children.

Strengthening the code on responsible gambling advertising and responsible gambling initiatives are also being considered.

Ms Crouch said: “It is vital that we strike the right balance between socially-responsible growth and protecting the most vulnerable, including children, from gambling-related harm.”

The government will consider its final proposals after the consultation ends in January.

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