UK gambling watchdog proposes cutting bets on machines
Britain should go further on tightening gambling laws to protect the most vulnerable by slashing the maximum stakes on popular betting machines by more than two thirds, regulators said Monday.
The country's Gambling Commission wants the biggest wager for the fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs), that controversially allow gamblers to bet every 20 seconds, to be cut to no more than £30 ($42, 34 euros) from £100.
Back in October, as part of plans to tighten laws on the high stakes machines, the government had proposed that the maximum stake for such bets, including on roulette terminals, should be cut in half to no more than £50.
However the watchdog's tougher recommendation is still seen by some campaigners, including opposition MPs and religious leaders, as far too lenient, with them calling for a maximum of £2 per bet.
Explaining its recommendation, Gambling Commission chief executive Neil McArthur said in a statement: "We've put consumers at the heart of our advice -- advice which is based on the best available evidence and is focussed on reducing the risk of gambling-related harm."
The government had proposed other measures in its October recommendations, including the curbing of gambling advertising and raising awareness about potential harm for gamblers.
Despite the Gambling Commission going further than the government, campaigners expressed their displeasure on Monday.
"I have been campaigning against FOBTs for almost a decade and sincerely hope that the government will now look at the evidence and cut maximum stakes to £2," tweeted David Lammy, MP for the main opposition Labour party.
"For too long these machines have been ruining lives," he added.
Shares in gambling firms meanwhile rose Monday on the news.
"Shares of Ladbrokes and William Hill have jumped... A maximum stake size of £30 is much higher than had been anticipated," said Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group.
© 2018 AFP