New Limit on Betting Machines Could Be Imposed

Elizabeth Elden
20th March 2018, 8:00 AM
  • UK Gambling commission has recommended that fixed odds betting terminals have a £30 maximum limit
  • Decision from the Government coming in the next few weeks
  • What do you think?
The Government could be putting in a limit on betting machines to help prevent addiction. Image: Getty

The UK’s Gambling commission has recommended that the maximum stake for fixed odds betting terminals be cut to £30 or less.

Currently people can bet up to £200 every 20 seconds on electronic casino games, such as roulette and blackjack, meaning they could theoretically loose £18,000 in an hour.

It comes after a consultation on the terminals by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, which also recommended that the maximum stake for slot games machines be £2.

Neil McArthur, the Gambling Commission chief executive, said, “We’ve put consumers at the heart of our advice- advice which is based on the best available evidence and is focused on reducing the risk of gambling-related harm.

“In our judgement, a stake cut for fixed-odds betting terminals alone doesn’t go far enough to protect vulnerable people.

“That is why we have recommended a stake cut, plus a comprehensive package of other measures to protect consumers.”

Why is the Gambling Commission looking into this issue?

Fixed odds betting terminals have come under criticism for encouraging high-stakes gambling and exposing people to the risk of gambling harm.

The machines have been called the “crack cocaine” of gambling by campaigners who say they let players lose money too quickly, which can easily lead to addiction.

Will limiting stake sizes help?

Limiting stake sizes is one of several proposals that have been put forward by the Gambling Commission.

Others include working with the gambling industry to make limit-setting more effective, including ending sessions when consumers reach time or money limits.

Another recommendation is a proposed ban on machines being able to allow different stake categories of games to be played in a single session.

But one campaigner has warned, “A £30 maximum stake may lead to shop closures and job losses and could lead to a wave of industry consolidation.”

What have campaigners said?

There are several very vocal campaigners who have been trying to put pressure on the Commission and Government to introduce limits on betting terminals.

Jim McMahon, Labour MP for Oldham West and Royton, said he is “disappointed with the guidance, and I hope the Government goes further.”

Carolyn Harris MP, said it was “outrageous” that the watchdog was not brave enough to adopt a tighter £2 limit on the machines “that blight lives”.

Matt Zarb-Cousin, a former spokesman for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who now campaigns for fairer gambling rules, said the Government will make the final decision, and urged people to “keep up the pressure”.

Labour MP David Lammy said, “I have been campaigning against fixed odds betting terminals for almost a decade and sincerely hope that the Government will now look at the evidence and cut the maximum stakes to £2.”

What do you think? Should there be a limit on betting terminals? Let us know in the comments.

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