Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, responds to today’s reports that plans to reduce the maximum stakes on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) have been blocked by the Treasury.
“We are extremely concerned by reports that plans to reduce maximum stakes on fixed odds betting terminals have been blocked. This will hinder efforts to reduce problem gambling and its devastating impacts on individuals and communities.
“We urge government to keep its promise to cut maximum stakes from £100, a figure which is significantly out of line with other high street gambling machines. Bringing the stakes down to £2 would help prevent vulnerable players from losing £100 in seconds in a single play, which many people cannot afford to lose.
“The Treasury need to take into account the significant costs to the public purse caused by these machines. The harm and anti-social behaviour they can cause has become an issue of growing national concern, while research has shown that problem gambling, often linked to FOBTs, creates huge costs for the NHS, councils and the criminal justice system.
“Money going into FOBTs can also reduce the amount of money going into local shops and businesses to support the country’s high streets.
“Looking just at the tax duty collected, and not the costs associated with FOBTs, is short-sighted.
“Any moves to delay or block a reduction in maximum stakes risks exacerbating the financial and mental problems FOBTs pose to vulnerable individuals.”