A cross-party group of British MPs said in an interim report published today that the maximum bets placed on fixed-odds betting terminals should be reduced from £100 to £2. In addition, the report urges the government to limit the number of betting shops that can operate in a given area.
The all-party parliamentary group said that its recommendations regarding the controversial FOBTs have significant support from all political parties, members of both the House of Lords and the House of Commons, and a serious “majority of the public.”
According to the MPs the gambling machines’ addictive nature should be curbed by the government so as for the vulnerable members of society to be prevented from falling victims to problem gambling behavior. The group presented several measures that could be taken into consideration and used to create solutions to the problem.
In the first place, MPs addressed the maximum of £100 that players can place on FOBTs every 20 seconds. According to many, this makes said machines extremely addictive, urging people to spend (and lose) considerable amounts of money within very short periods of time. As mentioned above, MPs have recommended that the maximum stake be slashed to £2.
Another matter paid attention to in the interim report was the high concentration of betting shops on high streets. The MPs said they believe local authorities should be allowed to take measures against such a “clustering” of gambling facilities.
Under the current regulations, gambling operators cannot install more than four FOBTs per single shop. According to the parliamentary group, bookmakers have found a way around to feature more such devices in a given area by opening more betting facilities there.
The MPs’ interim recommendations were published earlier today. The complete report is to be made public in early 2017, possibly in January. The study is the result from a six-month inquiry into the operation of the gambling machines.
As it could be expected, gambling operators were displeased to say the least by the latest wave of criticism regarding their operations. A spokesperson for William Hill said that the group of MPs had formed conclusions before even commencing its report process. It was also alluded that the review was biased as it was funded by arcades and land-based casinos to serve their interests.
Shares in William Hill and newly merged Ladbrokes Coral plummeted 7.2% and 6.8%, respectively, shortly after the parliamentary group’s recommendations were published.
Terry Davis holds a degree in Psychology, but it was after his graduation that he found his real passion – writing. Previously, he worked for a local news magazine.