South Shields MP welcomes cut in maximum stake for controversial gambling terminals
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck has welcomed The Government slashing the highest stake people can make on controversial fixed-odds betting machines.
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.
The 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.
It comes as a blow to bookmakers, which have warned it would cost betting shop jobs across the country.
The Association of British Bookmakers has predicted more than 4,000 shops could close across the gambling sector, with the loss of 21,000 jobs.
Mrs Lewell-Buck said: “Five years ago in Parliament, I raised the fact that in South Shields more than £2.8million has been lost on high stakes, fixed-odds betting terminals.
“I asked the Government to back Labour’s call to limit the maximum stake on these machines to £2.
“Now, after a hard-fought campaign by my colleagues, this is a great win for the Labour party but most of all, it is a win for gambling addicts and their families who have been victims of FOBT for many years.”
Shares in gambling firms initially fell as the big players estimated the extent of lost revenues and earnings, but the stock losses were later clawed back.
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.”
Bookmaker William Hill warned the “unprecedented” decision could see around 900 of its betting shops become loss-making, with a number of them at risk of closure.