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FOBT crackdown to be scrapped?

The

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UK's Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, has been forced to dismiss claims that he wants to scrap the planned crackdown on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs), after reports in the Daily Mail at the weekend alleged that he planned to block attempts to restrict use of these controversial gambling machines.

Reports in the paper claimed that Hammond had said that such plans would be ‘financially crippling’ for the UK as FOBTs generate almost £400m annually in tax revenue and plans to reduce the maximum stake allowed to just £2 would almost halve this income figure.

These reports were later dismissed by the Sports Minister Tracy Crouch on Twitter as another example of “fake news” and were roundly untrue. A statement issued by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to the Racing Post newspaper later affirmed the government’s commitment to the review: "The government is currently undertaking a review of stakes and prizes of gambling machines, that includes fixed odds betting terminals. The review will be published in the autumn."

Responding to the reports, Labour MP Carolyn Harris, chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), said: “The Treasury should look at the unsustainable cost to the public purse of dealing with the problems of crime, addiction and social harm on Britain’s high streets because of the exorbitant stakes on FOBTs.

“It is morally bankrupt to allow this situation to go on because of a misunderstanding of the economics of FOBTs. Britain will be financially better off if we take action on these machines.”

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