Gambling commission recommends £30 stake limit for fixed-odds betting terminals

Gambling commission recommends £30 stake limit for fixed-odds betting terminals

Up until now FOBTs have allowed players to stake up to £100 every 20 seconds, which means that they could theoretically lose up to £18,000 an hour.

It comes after a consultation on FOBTs for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

FOTBs have come under criticism for encouraging high-stakes gambling and exposing people to the risk of gambling harm.

Gambling Commission Executive Director Tim Miller appeared on BBC Radio 4's Today programme to explain the report's proposals, where he was grilled by presenter Justin Webb.

Fixed-odds terminals were introduced in casinos and betting shops in 1999, and offer computerised games at the touch of a button.

It found that there should be a stake limit of £30 or less if it is to have a significant effect on the potential for players to lose large amounts of money in a short space of time.

In October ministers confirmed the stake would be £50 or less but have yet to specify a limit.

Is it all about limiting stake sizes?

The government has been facing calls for a crackdown on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBT).

There are more than 30,000 fixed-odds betting terminals around the country, which now have a maximum stake limit of £100. "That is why we have recommended a stake cut plus a comprehensive package of other measures to protect consumers", he added.

UKGC's CEO explained that the regulatory body's proposed actions were expected to deal both with the risks of harm and to provide solutions which are to bring regulation of the matter in the longer term.

The advice also suggested preventing B2 machines from allowing gamblers to play different categories of games in a single session.

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How profitable are these machines?

A year ago alone £1.8billion was lost through FOBTs and the average gambler lost £1,250.

How has the market reacted?

Shares in major betting chains William Hill and Ladbrokes Coral rose in light of the Commission's report.

"This should be a relief for the sector as the worst-case scenario looks to have been avoided".

The commission now says stakes for FOBTs should be cut to £30 or below.

The commission said this would give consumers access to information enabling them to make informed choices about whether to continue to play, would give operators no excuse if they failed to identify players starting to show signs of "problematic gambling", and would give the government and commission a clearer picture of whether the industry was meeting its social responsibility obligations.

"These machines are at the heart of the UK's hidden epidemic of problem gambling". That is the pull of FOBTs, the fixed-odds betting terminals that are dragging thousands into financial penury, addiction and mental health crises.

"It has got to be £2 [maximum stake], nothing else is acceptable".

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".

"While the package which we are recommending includes a stake cut for Category B2 gaming machines, our advice is clear that any serious attempt to reduce the risk of harm must not rely exclusively on a change to the stake limit for one product, which only 1.5% of the population plays each month".

"In the meantime, we are waiting to hear what the ministers conclude in their review, and hope to hear the results soon".

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