Opinion split in Wigan on fixed odds betting terminals proposal
Recommendations designed to crack down on controversial gambling machines have been given a mixed reaction in the borough.
The Gambling Commission says the maximum stake for fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) should be brought down to Â£30 or less.
The Commission says the stake for FOBT slot games should be Â£2 while other types of fixed-odds betting, such as roulette, could have a stake of up to Â£30.
The decision has been welcomed by campaigner Adrian Parkinson, who says the watchdog has got the balance between protecting punters and preventing mass redundancies through betting shops closing about right.
Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue, however, has slammed the Commission’s findings, backing the Labour Party’s stance that the amount which can be gambled across the board should be just Â£2.
The high-stake, high-speed electronic casino games, which have been dubbed “the crack cocaine of gambling”, are said to be dangerously addictive and currently allow a stake of up to Â£100 every 20 seconds, enabling a player to theoretically gamble away Â£18,000 an hour.
Ms Fovargue said: “Families across the country have been devastated by the effects of gambling addiction which is too often accompanied by theft and drug and alcohol abuse.
“Reducing the maximum stake on FOBTs from Â£100 to Â£2 will make all our communities safer and better off so I am disappointed that we may be looking at a much higher figure.”
Mr Parkinson said: “The Gambling Commission has produced a very evidence- based analysis of where the staking level should be set on FOBTs and has provided measured advice to Government to assist in their deliberations.
“Campaigners will continue to call for Â£2 just as bookmakers will call for Â£100. The Government has to act in such a way that they protect problem gamblers and find a balance that allows responsible gamblers to continue enjoying their time in betting shops playing FOBTs.
“At the same time the thousands of jobs at stake in the 50-year-old betting industry must be safeguarded.
“If drastic action is taken on stakes, it is certain to impact hundreds of jobs in the Wigan area alone.
“The Gambling Commission has struck the right balance in its report to the Government by supporting a proportionate stake reduction combined with more extensive measures to support player protection.”