Government gets it right with £2 gaming-machine limit, says Bishop of St Albans

17 May 2018

PA

THE Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, has said that the Government has made the “right decision” in announcing plans to limit the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) to £2.

In proposals published on Thursday, the maximum stake for a single play on FOBTs will be cut to £2. It is currently £100. The decision is a victory for campaigners against the excesses of the gambling industry, including a number of Christian groups.

Dr Smith said the reduction was an “essential” part of the solution to problem gambling on FOBTs, which tend to be concentrated in betting shops sited in poorer areas.

Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said on Thursday: “When faced with the choice of halfway measures or doing everything we can to protect vulnerable people, we have chosen to take a stand.

“These machines are a social blight, and prey on some of the most vulnerable in society, and we are determined to put a stop to it and build a fairer society for all.”

Dr Smith said: “Fixed-odds betting terminals are a scourge on high streets that have taken advantage of the vulnerable for too long. I am very glad the Government agrees that a £2 stake is an essential part of the solution.

“Of course, there is more work to be done, but the Government has made the right decision. I would like to thank the Prime Minister and her Government, particularly Minister Tracey Crouch MP and Secretary of State Matt Hancock MP for their admirable moral leadership.”

The General Synod voted in February 2017 to support a £2 maximum stake on FOBTs, along with powers for local authorities to control the numbers of these machines on high streets (News, 17 February 2017).

In March, Dr Smith urged the Government to be “courageous” in facing down the gambling industry (News, 20 March).

Mark Evans, a compulsive gambler in recovery (News, 11 August 2017), said that he was “over the moon and delighted” by the FOBT-stake news, but warned that the lack of regulation of online gambling continued to be a major problem.

Mr Evans said on Thursday: “The next step is tighter online regulations so compulsive gamblers can ban themselves across all gambling sites. . . We are looking for more collaboration between betting companies.”

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