Crack cocaine of gambling' stakes should be cut says regulator

18 2017. REUTERS  Dado Ruvic  Illustration  File

The £30 limit would apply to non-slot games such as roulette - by far the most popular FOBT game - while slot games would have a maximum stake of £2, under the proposals.

Campaigners have called on ministers to ignore recommendations from the gambling watchdog after it refused to adopt a maximum stake of £2 on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

The popular betting machines have been under an extreme amount of scrutiny over the past year, as they now allow players to bet £100 every 20 seconds at the terminals, potentially allowing a punter to spend £18,000 an hour.

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

The Commission's investigation into the machines - described by critics as the crack cocaine of gambling - was launched to try to reduce the risk to consumers.

The Commission said the £30 limit for FOBTs had been recommended to prevent players from losing large amounts of money in a short space of time.

The gambling regulatory authority has issued its formal advice aiming to put a cap on the gambling-related harm that customers, and especially more vulnerable ones, could face.

The Gambling Commission's chief executive, Neil McArthur, said: "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". UKGC's CEO explained that the regulatory body's proposed actions were expected to deal both with the risks of harm and to provide solutions which are to bring regulation of the matter in the longer term. In total £331.8m was gambled, which includes games played using winnings from original stakes.

The Association of British Bookmakers said it is considering the recommendations.

'The Commission has also identified a number of responsible gambling measures that will benefit those experiencing problems with their gambling.

A spokesman said: 'We fully understand that there is public concern and that there will be a stake cut to reduce the levels of losses on machines in betting shops.

Matt Zarb-Cousin, a former spokesman for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who now campaigns for fairer gambling rules, said the Government will make the final decision and urged people to "keep up the pressure".

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