Mayor of Newham slams plans for consultation into fixed odds betting terminal stake cut

Medway Labour campaigners say the announcement doesn't go far enough. Picture: Daniel Hambury/PA Wir

Medway Labour campaigners say the announcement doesn't go far enough. Picture: Daniel Hambury/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Government plans to hold a 12 week consultation on whether to cut the maximum stake allowed to be placed on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) have been criticised by the mayor of Newham.

Sir Robin Wales has accused the government of “dragging its feet” on the future of the machine.

The council, along with 92 others, have been calling for the maximum stake to be cut from £100 to just £2 since 2014.

Newham currently has one of the highest concentration of betting shops in the country with 81 across the borough, including 12 on one street alone.

The council believes the move to hold a consultation on reducing the stake to between £2 and £50 is an unnecessary delay.

Sir Robin said: “The case we and 92 other local authorities have made for a stake reduction of £2 is irrefutable.

“£20 million a year lost on these machines - it is a huge price that some of our poorest and most vulnerable residents are paying because of this government’s continued inaction.

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“Our residents cannot afford any further delay. The Government must act decisively and reduce the maximum stakes on FOBT machines to £2.”

He added: “Only a stake reduction of £2 will provide protection for our residents and promote responsible gambling.

“If the maximum stake level is set at anything over £2, it will show that the treasury is putting exchequer profits before people.

“For this government to show it is genuinely committed to ‘tackling burning injustices’, it must reduce the stakes to £2 and tackle these betting machines once and for all.”

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.

The announcement is part of a package of measures announced in the government’s gambling review.

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.”

The government will consider its final proposals after the consultation ends in January.