Sunderland MP urges Government to clamp down on controversial betting terminals
A Sunderland MP has urged the Government to crack down on controversial betting machines.
Ministers have announced plans to consult on plans 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.
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.
A 12-week consultation is being launched on the proposals, which are aimed at reducing the potential for large losses on the machines.
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.
According to statistics compiled by The Campaign for Fairer Gambling, in 2016 there are more than 230 of the machines in 63 betting shops across Sunderland, and punters pumped £28,840,572 into them last year, with a cumulative amount of £155,056,834 gambled and £7,210,143 lost.
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.”
But Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott said: “The response from the Tory-Government is very disappointing and does nothing to help reduce the damage that Fixed Odds Betting Terminals are doing to individuals and their families in Sunderland.
“We know that bookmakers target areas of deprivation with these machines, taking money from those who can least afford it. The Tories could have taken action to curb the harm these machines are doing but instead, they have launched yet another consultation. The Tories should back Labour’s call to reduce the maximum stake to £2.”