MP demands action to control fixed odds betting machines

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MP Stuart McDonald has this week called on the UK Government to change the legislation affecting Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs).

Mr McDonald serves as vice chair on the FOBT All Party Parliamentary Group, which published the interim findings from its inquiry into FOBTs on Thursday, December 8. These findings have been submitted to the Department for Culture Media and Sport as part of its ‘Call for Evidence’ into gaming machines.

Their findings suggest that the Government should significantly reduce the £100 stake that can be wagered on a FOBT. Furthermore, the Group believe there is a strong case for the stake being reduced to £2 or, at the very least, be reduced on a precautionary basis until evidence is resented to the Government that the high stakes on these machines do not cause harm.

The Group have also called for greater controls over FOBTs at a local level. Findings from the inquiry suggest that powers should be granted to local communities to stop the clustering of betting shops.

The MP said: “The evidence presented to us in our inquiry has made it clear that the Government should significantly reduce the £100 stake that can be wagered on a Fixed Odds Betting Terminal. Members of the Group believe that this should be reduced to £2, a move which is supported by many members of parliament and by a significant majority of the public.

“It is critical that the Government considers not just the impact on ‘problem gambling’ but wider gambling related harm caused by FOBT machines and the cumulative impact on families and communities that these machines can have.

The Government has a duty to protect the most vulnerable in our society and to act in the public interest. I strongly urge them to do so and do so with immediate effect”

A full report setting out more detailed recommendations for the Government will be published by the group in January.