Pressure has been mounted on the government over betting regulations with a number of local ministers joining Jim Shannon, a Democratic Union politician from Northern Ireland, to call on the government to clamp down on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
Shannon targeted fixed-odds betting terminals which can be found in betting shops throughout the UK. These machines allow punters to place stakes of up to £100 every 20 seconds, which make it possible to spend up to £300 per minute and up to £18,000 per hour. With more than 35,000 terminals in the UK and machines placed disproportionately in poorer areas, they have a significant impact on young and vulnerable people.
According to councillor Simon Blackburn, chair of the Local Government Association (LGA)‘s safer and stronger communities board, the “harm and anti-social behaviour they can cause has become an issue of growing national concern.”
“Someone playing on a machine can lose £100 in a matter of seconds in a single play on a FOBT,” Blackburn said. “This is money many people can’t afford to lose and needs to be looked at again.”
Shannon has called for a reduction in the maximum stakes that can be placed on the machines, saying that limiting the maximum stake to £2 was “the only way effectively to tackle the growing problems that these machines are inflicting on our communities and on those who can least afford it.”
Lola Leach, chief executive of CARE, a Christian public policy charity which has focused on FOBTs added: “FOBTs are causing social devastation across the country and the unique combination of high speed play and high maximum stake means problem gamblers are especially at risk.”
“The government should stop stalling because the longer it takes to act, the more devastation these toxic machines will cause.”