Maximum stake to be cut on fixed-odds betting terminals

The Government is to cut the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) - known as the crack cocaine of gambling - from £100 to between £50 and £2.
A fixed odds betting terminalA fixed odds betting terminal
A fixed odds betting terminal

The high-stake, high-speed electronic casino games are said to be dangerously addictive and currently allow a stake of up to £100 every 20 seconds, allowing a player to theoretically gamble away £18,000 an hour.

The announcement is part of a package of measures announced in the Government's gambling review.

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Culture minister Tracey Crouch said: "It is vital that we strike the right balance between socially-responsible growth and protecting the most vulnerable, including children, from gambling-related harm."

Raising standards of player protection for online gambling, a responsible gambling campaign and new advertising guidelines are among a raft of suggestions designed to help minimise the risk to vulnerable people and children.

Strengthening the code on responsible gambling advertising and responsible gambling initiatives are also being considered.

A 12-week consultation is being launched on the proposals, which are aimed at reducing the potential for large losses on the machines.

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The Government has also asked the Gambling Commission for more information about how better tracking and monitoring of play on FOBTs might be used to protect players. They have also asked to see if the spin speed on games such as roulette should be looked at.

The Gambling Commission is to look at changes to the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice next year, aimed at strengthening player protection online.

It is to set out expectations for the industry for customer interaction online.

An annual budget of £5 million to £7 million has been earmarked for a two-year advertising campaign backed by GambleAware, Advertising Association, broadcasters and gambling industry groups.

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It will include TV adverts, including around live sport, as well as radio, cinema, online and print.

It is to be funded by gambling operators, including online-only betting firms, with airspace and digital media provided by broadcasters.

In an effort to protect children and young people, n ew advertising guidelines are to be drawn up by the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) to see that adverts do not encourage impulsive or socially irresponsible gambling.

The Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRG) is to tighten the code on responsible gambling advertising so that operators ensure that gambling channels cannot be accessed by under-18-year-olds via social media.

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A call is also being made for gambling operators to step up funding for research, education and treatment, or the Government will consider other options, including introducing a mandatory levy on them.

The Government is recommending maintaining current stakes on other gaming machines, apart from on prize bingo gaming, where the industry has already proposed an increase from £1 to £2 and prizes from £70 to £100.

Ms Crouch believes the stake reduction could help limit the potential for large session losses along with the potential harmful impact on the player and their wider communities.

The Government will consider its final proposals after the consultation ends on January 23.

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The Advertising Association welcomed the review, saying: " The Advertising Association co-ordinated a group, which comprised major sports broadcasters and representatives of the gambling industry, to respond to the Government's call for evidence as to whether the current rules are appropriate to protect children and vulnerable people from the possible harmful impact of gambling advertising.

"This group put forward strong evidence that the current rules are adequate and that further restrictions on advertising would be ineffective to protect children and vulnerable people further. We stated that the standards set out in the advertising codes and the gambling industry's own code were comprehensive."

He added that the group was "pleased" that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) had welcomed its proposals for a media campaign promoting responsible gambling behaviour.