Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney MP, Gerald Jones, has today welcomed the UK Government’s decision to cut the maximum stake for Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) to £2.
Currently, Fixed Odds Betting Terminals allow punters to stake £100 every 20 seconds on electronic versions of casino games, such as roulette, but in a minimal supervision, high street bookie environment. Following a long, drawn out consultation, the Conservative UK Government have finally decided to cut the maximum stake to just £2.
In just one year (2015-16), the staggering amount lost to FOBTs in Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney constituency was estimated at £1.7million, with a massive £9.9million since the machines were introduced in 2008.
Ahead of the closure of the Government’s consultation in January this year on reducing the stake, Gerald joined 27 other MPs, Peers and others to sign a cross-party letter from Carolyn Harris MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals to the Prime Minister, calling for the stake to be reduced.
Gerald Jones MP said: “The case for action on FOBTs is clear and I am pleased that the Government has now taken action. Chair of the All Party Group Carolyn Harris MP has campaigned tirelessly for this change and I have been pleased to support her calls as a member of the APPG. The problems associated with them are obvious, it is really not acceptable to be able to walk in off the street and stake such a high amount with no checks or safeguards in place whatsoever.
“The Tory UK Government has dragged its heels over this issue. However, I am very pleased to see this announcement which is a very encouraging step forward to ending the cycle of misery that these machines cause.”
The APPG on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals published a report in January 2017, assessing the impact of FOBTs, and called for a substantial reduction in the maximum stake playable, stating that there was a strong case for this to be no more than £2.
The campaign has secured the widespread support with the General Synod of the Church of England, 93 local authorities, the Royal Society for Public Health and politicians from all parties supporting the campaign.
The FOBT APPG is chaired by Swansea East MP, Carolyn Harris, and is supported by groups including Bacta, The Hippodrome Casino, Novomatic, Praesepe and the Royal Society for Public Health.