Campaign’s bet bid is rejected

Yvonne Fovargue
Yvonne Fovargue

A BOROUGH MP has slammed the “appalling” decision not to cap maximum bets on betting machines dubbed the “crack-cocaine” of gambling.

A group of councils across the country had backed a bid for a limit of £2 per spin on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

The Campaign for Fairer Gambling initiative had said this would bring restrictions on FOBTs in line with other high street gambling machines and reduce “clustering” of betting shops. But the proposals have been rejected by ministers.

Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue said: “The refusal to reduce the maximum bet is an appalling decision. Clustering of betting shops, primarily in deprived areas and struggling high streets, has been driven by FOBT profits, the four FOBTs per shop allowance and the removal of the so called demand test – has led to over 90 per cent of the market being dominated by the big five corporate bookmakers.

“The government measures do not do anything to retrospectively roll back the clustering of betting shops whereas reduction of the maximum FOBT stake to £2 is now increasingly recognised as a solution to shop clustering and a reduction in many areas of the current over provision of FOBTs.”

“FOBT’s encourage irresponsible gambling and the Government is abdicating its responsibilities by not stepping in and reducing the stake to £2 a spin.”

FOBTs are referred to as the “crack-cocaine” of gambling because of their fast-play and addictiveness which allows gamblers to stake £100 per play.

A total of 94 councils across England and Wales - but not including Wigan - backed the bid to cut the stakes as part of the Sustainable Communities Act.

But local government minister Marcus Jones MP said councils have not used their full powers to restrict the spread of betting shops.