Hartlepool MP welcomes move to slash maximum stake on controversial betting machines

Fixed odds betting terminals.
Fixed odds betting terminals.

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill has welcomed news the highest stake on controversial fixed-odds betting machines is to be slashed.

The Government said it had chosen to ‘take a stand’ by cutting the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) - dubbed the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling - from £100 to £2.

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill.

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill.

Its decision goes further than the recommendations of a review carried out by the gambling regulator earlier this year, which recommended the maximum stake for FOBTs should be set at or below £30.

MPs across parties joined campaigners in welcoming the decision to crack down on the machines, which can lead to punters placing bets of up to £100 every 20 seconds.

But it comes as a blow to bookmakers, which have warned it would cost betting shop jobs across the country.

“This cut in stake has come from years of campaigning from Labour MPs who are worried about the number of problem gamblers who are able to lose a significant amount of money in minutes,” said Mike Hill.

I will support any measures to help those who are vulnerable to losing high amounts of money on FOBTs while supporting high street betting shops who will naturally take a hit.

Mike Hill MP

“While I don’t believe this will bring an end to, or provide a solution to gambling addiction, I believe the Government is making the right decision in trying to address the root causes of debt from Fixed Odds Betting Terminals.

“In Hartlepool alone last year, £2.3 million was lost on FOBTs in betting shops alone, and this was £1.7billion across the UK. A recent report by IPPR and GambleAware found that the total cost to the taxpayer of problem gambling, including through mental health services, police intervention and homelessness can be up to £1.2 billion a year.

“I will support any measures to help those who are vulnerable to losing high amounts of money on FOBTs while supporting high street betting shops who will naturally take a hit.

“People who gamble responsibly should not be worried about the effect this will have on their experience, and high street betting shops will continue to make profits, as they did before the introduction of FOBTs.

“Places such as casinos, amusement arcades, bingo halls and pubs should also be doing what they can to ensure that the issue of problem gambling is addressed.”

Culture Secretary Matt Hancock said: “These machines are a social blight and prey on some of the most vulnerable in society, and we are determined to put a stop to it and build a fairer society for all.”