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Britain’s Finance Minister to support triennial review outcome

Brit

hammond
ain’s Finance Minister Philip Hammond has suggested that he will support the outcome of the government’s review of fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs). The minister has indicated he will maintain his support of the ‘long-awaited’ review, even if it reduces the yearly £400m ($518m) that these gaming machines generate in tax revenues.

Last month, media reports said that Hammond had blocked attempts by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to curb the use of the machines over the fears of losing tax receipts from bookmakers if FOBTs are restricted.

However, in a letter to the Bishop of St Albans seen by the Observer newspaper the Chancellor of the Exchequer has indicated the opposite. “Recent media reports on the status of the review of gaming machines and social responsibility measures are entirely without foundation.

“Both I and my department fully support DCMS’s work to ensure the UK’s gambling regime continues to balance the needs of vulnerable people, consumers who gamble responsibly, and those who work in this sector,” read the letter.

The review, which was due to be published in the summer but is not now expected before the end of October, aims to regulate and control the current state of FOBTs. It was highly sought-after by campaign groups including the Church of England. The Bishop of St Albans, Alan Smith, has led opposition to the machines by the Church of England, saying they had a devastating effect on some vulnerable groups in society.

Lawmakers want to cut down the maximum stake from the current £100 to as little as £2 to help protect problem gamblers, in addition to limiting the number of terminals per shop.

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