Gambling machines to be limited to £2 stakes

Culture minister Tracey Crouch said problem gambling could devastate lives

Culture minister Tracey Crouch said problem gambling could devastate lives

Bookmaker William Hill, which generates just over half its retail revenues from FOBTs, described the United Kingdom government's decision as "unprecedented" and warned that 900 of its shops could become loss-making, potentially leading to job losses.

But Government bosses said the limit will cut the risk of potentiall large financial losses.

Ms Crouch added: "Problem gambling can devastate individuals' lives, families and communities".

Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour party and shadow secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, told the BBC's Today programme: "For five years now pretty much everyone in Westminster, Whitehall and in the country has known that these machines have had a very detrimental effect in communities up and down the land.The bookmakers have chosen to take a defiant approach, trying to face down parliament, really, with a very aggressive campaign". These machines are a social blight and prey on some of the most vulnerable in society, and we are determined to put a stop to it and build a fairer society for all. "Of course, there is more work to be done, but the Government has made the right decision".

In March, the UK's Gambling Commission recommended new restrictions on fixed-odds betting terminals that were less stringent than feared, suggesting that the maximum stake should be cut from the current level of £100 to £30.

William Hill said the new regulation could lead to a 35 to 45 per cent reduction in annual total gaming net revenue.

"While we want a healthy gambling industry that contributes to the economy, we also need one that does all it can to protect players".

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The firm has already recently cautioned the stake cut could leave it at risk of a foreign takeover and jeopardise 20,000 British jobs.

"We welcome, therefore, the significant intervention by the government today, and believe this is a positive development for the long-term sustainability of the industry".

The government said the Gambling Commission would also toughen up protections around online gambling such as stronger age verification rules and proposals that require operators to set limits on gamblers' spending until affordability checks have been conducted.

A major, multi-million pound advertising campaign promoting responsible gambling will launch later this year, while the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling has amended its code to ensure responsible gambling messages appear for the duration of all television gambling adverts.

And the age limit for playing National Lottery games will be reviewed under the next licence competition.

In order to cover any negative impact on the public finances, and to protect funding for vital public services, this change will be linked to an increase in Remote Gaming Duty, paid by online gaming operators, at the relevant Budget.

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