The maximum stake on highly addictive fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) will be cut from £100 to just £2 from today, as new regulations come into force.
Social policy charity CARE, who campaigned for a £2 limit hailed the outcome as a step in the right direction and said the new limit could help save lives.
Dubbed the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’, FOBTs offered a toxic combination of high-speed play and a high maximum stake where you could theoretically lose £300 in just one minute.
Research has shown that FOBTs are often clustered predominantly in deprived areas and the machines have also been linked to crippling debt, marriage and family breakdown, mental health issues and in extreme cases, suicide.
To build on the clear momentum behind reforming existing gambling laws, CARE today is calling for a new, statutory levy on gambling firms to make sure they pay their fair share towards funding gambling addiction support.
CARE’s Chief Executive, Nola Leach said:
“Along with many others, CARE campaigned for the stake on FOBTs to be cut to just £2 and today is the hugely welcome outcome of years of hard work.
“In extreme cases, FOBTs have been linked with tragic cases of suicide and they have caused genuine social devastation so new reduction could save lives.
“The new limit, finally coming into force today, means these highly addictive machines will be a more benign form of entertainment.
“It is great to see the needs of gambling addicts put firmly before the interests of the bookies and the Government should be commended for doing the right thing and cutting the stakes.
“But there is much more work that needs to be done to tackle problem gambling in Britain. It’s fair to say that current gambling legislation is not working for anyone, including children and young people across Britain.
“The Government must address gambling relating harms and this must include a wider discussion about football’s disturbing relationship with the gambling industry, online gambling harms and making sure that there is sufficient and well-funded support for problem gamblers.
“The next step should be making sure there is a statutory levy on gambling companies, so they pay their fair share to support addiction services.
“Our polling shows this would be popular with the wider population and let’s be honest, the bookies have had long enough the get their house in order.”
Notes to the editors:
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 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.
The Government initially announced its intention to slash the maximum stake on the machines in May 2018 and said that it would be in force by April this year.
But then the Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in the 2018 Budget that the reduction would be delayed until October 2019.
This caused considerable controversy and Sports Minister Tracey Crouch resigned in protest, while MPs from across from across the House of Commons came together to force the Chancellor into honouring the initial commitment to reduce the stake in April.
It subsequently transpired that the initial controversial decision to delay the cut was based on a discredited report, commissioned by the Gambling Industry.
Thanks to the cross-party pressure and the courage of Ms Crouch, the Chancellor did a U-turn and the original deadline of April 2019 was reinstated.
CARE’s latest work on gambling here: https://www.care.org.uk/news/gambling
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
Research has also shown a link between problem gambling and proliferation of betting shops with FOBTs: https://care.org.uk/news/latest-news/research-shows-link-between-problem-gambling-and-proliferation-betting-shops-fobts
CARE Polling on problem gambling in Britain:
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/
Wider gambling problems and concerns
Number of child gamblers quadruples in just two years - The Gambling Commission's figures suggest 450,000 children aged 11-16 bet on a regular basis, while 55,000 children were classed as problem gamblers.
The most recent Gambling Commission report into Gambling behaviour across Great Britain also showed that in the UK there are more than 2 million people with a gambling addiction or at risk of developing one: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/PDF/survey-data/Gambling-behaviour-in-Great-Britain-2015.pdf
Sponsoring football shirts is a way that bookmakers can side-step the ban on advertising to children. -https://www.care.org.uk/news/latest-news/gambling-companies-side-stepping-ad-ban-sponsoring-football-teams
Whilst some betting companies have recently pledged a whistle-to-whistle gambling advertising ban, just under half – 9 out of 20 Premier League teams and 17 out of 24 (70 per cent) of teams in the Championship are sponsored by gambling companies. In total, across the top two leagues in the UK 60 per cent of teams will have gambling companies as their sponsors. Therefore, children are still going to see their sporting heroes endorsing gambling, which is extremely problematic.