UK Chancellor’s aide joins growing calls for bookmaker gambling machine stake cuts

  • Government expected to cut FOBT stakes after review
  • Think tank study estimates 1.5 million people use FOBTs

UK MP Chris Philp has joined the growing number of voices calling for a cut in fixed odds betting terminal stakes, reports the Daily Mail, leading some to suggest that ministers are set to clamp down on the betting machines.

Chris Philip is a fan of limiting stakes on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals.
Chris Philip is reportedly a fan of limiting stakes on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals.

A review of the gambling industry as a whole is underway within the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, addressing problem gambling in the UK and the risks within the industry.

Politicians, media sources and campaign groups have called for the report to focus on FOBT stakes, and for lawmakers to introduce a mandatory £2 limit on FOBT bets.

Think tank links FOBTs with problem gambling rise

Ahead of the Government’s own report into gambling, Respublica has released its own study which highlights the scale of the problem.

The conservative think tank suggests that 1.5 million people use FOBTs and that the machines cause disproportionate harm in poorer areas.

One in three problem gamblers earns £10,400 or less, the study reveals, and players in debt or without a job are more likely to become addicted to the machines.

“The spread of gambling machines in understaffed shops in some of our most deprived neighbourhoods has had a harmful effect on our country,” said the report’s co-author and Respublica’s director Philip Blond.

“In some communities, the situation has got out of hand.”

Recent UK Gambling Commission figures which show around 430,000 people are thought to be problem gamblers, with some two million classed as ‘at risk’.

MP joins calls to take action on FOBTs

The report is backed by MP Chris Philp, who reached out to the government in his foreword for the study.

A reduced stake would “help provide a gambling climate in which prosperity can return to the lives of people and their communities,” the minister argues.

As an aide to Chancellor Philip Hammond, Mr Philp is an important voice in the campaign against FOBTs. His comments have led political insiders to assume that action on FOBT stakes is imminent.

The Government was originally reportedly resistant to the notion of FOBT reform, which could cause the closure of up to one half of Britain’s high street bookmakers and cause the industry to lose up to $1.3 billion in annual revenue.

The Association of British Bookmakers, representing high street bookies ,also claims that a £2 stake limit on FOBTs would see off 21,000 jobs, and see the government treasury lose $1.3 billion in tax revenue by 2020.

The ABB also states that limits on FOBTs will not reduce problem gambling if it just pushes the problem elsewhere, but that they would accept limitations if the evidence suggested player safety would be significantly improved.

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