UK government slashes fixed odds betting machines maximum stake from £100 to £2

 
Rebecca Smith
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The government is clamping down on the gambling machines (Source: Getty)

The government announced this morning that the maximum stakes on fixed odds betting terminals are to be cut from £100 to £2 to clamp down on the risk of "gambling-related harm".

Minister for sport and civil society Tracey Crouch announced the shake-up today, following a consultation with the public and the industry to try and deliver a balance for the industry to still contribute to the economy, but so it is also "socially responsible" and protecting consumers as much as possible.

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The secretary of state for the department for digital, culture, media and sport, Matt Hancock, said:

When faced with the choice of halfway measures or doing everything we can to protect vulnerable people, we have chosen to take a stand. 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.

The proposed shake-up will need parliamentary approval, while the government said it will also be engaging with the gambling industry to ensure it is given enough time to roll out the changes.

To cover any hit to the public finances, the government said the change will be linked to an increase in remote gaming duty, paid by online gaming operators, at the relevant Budget.

GVC said in a statement that it welcomed the certainty provided by the announcement but was disappointed in he outcome, and said "an adequate implementation period" is needed to help prepare for the store closures that will arise.

It expects to be able to reposition its business within two years after the ruling is rolled out, with an expected hit of £120m to its earnings by the end of that period.

John White, chief executive of the British amusement catering association (Bacta), said:

This is a decision that puts player protection first, and will allow the gambling industry as a whole to move forwards and create a safer, more socially responsible environment for consumers.

It is a testament to the wide-ranging campaign for stake reduction from concerned individuals and organisations across politics, public health and the wider gaming sector. The government has made the right decision and it now needs to be implemented without delay.

The government also announced this morning that the Gambling Commission will toughen up protections around online gambling including tougher age verification rules and proposals to require operators to set limits on consumers' spending until affordability checks have been carried out.

The age limit for playing National Lottery games will also be reviewed as part of the next licence competition, with the government saying it was needed to take into account "developments in the market and the risk of harm to young people".

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