Power to ban FOBTs could be devolved by UK government

By Dhanum Nursigadoo
The UK government is to consider giving Wales the power to ban Fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs), also known as B2 machines, at its own discretion. The move comes after Wales Office Minister Lord Bourne pledged to review the issue again following protests in the House of Lords.

Authority over gambling is currently reserved to Westminster, but this is set to change as responsibility for FOBTs is already being devolved to Scotland. Labour peer Baroness Morgan tabled an amendment to the Wales Bill to give the country similar powers.

FOBTs, mostly supplied and manufactured by SG Gaming and Inspired Gaming, have come under heavy criticism in the UK, due to the lure of up to £500 payouts allegedly attracting vulnerable people. Campaigners are lobbying for the maximum stake to be reduced from £100 to £2 per go.

Baroness Morgan commented: “Evidence suggests that these machines are highly addictive, causing real and lasting damage to gamblers.

"They have become a huge problem in communities that are often struggling to cope with under-investment and high unemployment, exacerbating the problem of gambling more than any other former of betting."

The issue of FOBTs is also being specifically examined in the overdue triennial review which should grant clarity about the future of FOBTs in the UK as a whole if power over the machines is not devolved to Wales.

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