'Crack cocaine of gambling' stakes should be cut says regulator following pressure from Sunderland MP

Julie Elliott MP.
Julie Elliott MP.

Maximum stakes for fixed odds betting - know as 'the crack cocaine of gambling' - should be cut , a regulator has said following pressure from a Sunderland MP.

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, enabling a player to theoretically gamble away £18,000 an hour.

The maximum stake for fixed odds betting terminals should be cut to £30 or less, the Gambling Commission has now recommended.

Gambling Commission Chief Executive Neil McArthur said: "We've put consumers at the heart of our advice - advice which is based on the best available evidence and is focused on reducing the risk of gambling-related harm.'

"In our judgment, a stake cut for Fixed Odds Betting Terminals alone doesn't go far enough to protect vulnerable people.

"That is why we have recommended a stake cut plus a comprehensive package of other measures to protect consumers.

"We have proposed actions that will tackle both the risk of harm and provide solutions that are sustainable in the longer term."

The Gambling Commission has issued advice to support the Government with its review of gaming machines.

The guidance suggests that fixed-odds betting terminal (FOBT) slots stakes should be limited to £2.

It also said the stake limit for FOBT non-slot games, including roulette, should be set at £30 or less "if it is to have a significant effect on the potential for players to lose large amounts of money in a short space of time".

Sunderkand Central MP Julie Elliott said: “I welcome proposals to limit maximum stakes on fixed odds betting terminals to £30 as a first step towards the £2 limit to really tackle the damage that FOBTs are doing to individuals and their families.

"We know that bookmakers target those who can least afford it with these machines so regulations need to go much further if we are to properly protect vulnerable people.

"That’s why the Government should back Labour’s call to reduce the maximum stake to £2. “

Ms Elliott has previously urged the Government to crack down on controversial betting machines.

Speaking to the Echo in November, Ms 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.”