UK government rejects bid to limit stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals

By Tom Lewis
The UK government has rejected a bid to significantly lower the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

In November 2014 Newham Council, with the backing of 92 other local authorities, called for the highest wager on FOBTs to be lowered from £100 to £2.

The council cited “the impact on the vitality of high streets and the increased anti-social behaviours and crime associated with clustering in one locality” as “an issue of grave concern” in its Sustainable Communities Act proposal.

The proposal was submitted under legislation allowing councils to press for changes in law from central government that promote the sustainability of local communities, and was rejected by the government on 16 July.

A government spokesman said: “We have already acted by introducing stronger gambling controls to further protect players and promote responsible gambling, in April.

“This includes putting an end to unsupervised stakes above £50 on FOBTs and giving more powers to local authorities to stop new betting shops opening up in their areas.”

Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, described the decision as an “insult” to local councils.

He added: “We will continue to challenge this decision, because without a reduction in stakes, FOBTs will continue to be a blight on the nation’s high streets.”

According to statistics published by the Gambling Commission, the amount of money gambled using FOBTs has been on the rise in recent years.

A total of £1.61bn was gambled on the machines between October 2013 and September 2014, up from £1.05bn in 2008/09.

The average number of FOBTs also rose by 11% over the same six-year period, from 31,439 to 34,874.

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