Campaign for £2 stakes on fixed-odds betting terminal moves forward

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THE News campaign to lower the limit people can gamble on addictive roulette machines has taken a step closer to success.

It comes after the chancellor Philip Hammond dropped his opposition to plans to reduce the betting amount to £2 per spin.

Chancellor Philip Hammond

Chancellor Philip Hammond

Currently, people can wager £100 every 20 seconds on fixed-odds betting terminals.

Earlier this year The News launched a campaign calling on restrictions in how much people can gamble.

We joined forces with Portsmouth City Council in lobbying the government to impose a £10-per-spin restriction on machines, as part of a campaign to tackle ongoing problems in the city.

Initially, Mr Hammond was reluctant to support the proposals as the cut would cost the treasury £400m in lost revenue, but after months of pressure he has backed down.

Prime minister Theresa May is believed to be against leaving the maximum as it is.

Since its launch, the campaign has gained support from a number of MPs in the area, including Havant’s Alan Mak, Portsmouth’s Stephen Morgan and Penny Mordaunt and Caroline Dinenage, for Gosport.

Speaking to The News previously, Ms Mordaunt said: ‘The review does offer us an opportunity to ask for measures that would limit the ability for people to get into financial difficulty when gambling.’

Mr Morgan, Labour MP, added: ‘I am very concerned by the widespread proliferation of fixed-odds betting terminals since the introduction of the Gambling Act.

‘I want the government to publish a review of stakes and prizes as a matter of urgency and to commit to reducing the terminals in our communities.’

FOBTs were responsible for 96 per cent of all losses over £1,000 in betting shops and arcades.

Last year ministers ordered a review of the terminals after the department for culture, media and sport wanted to reduce the maximum stake on the machines to as little as £2.

There is no set date for when the new bet limits could come into play - but if they do, it’s unlikely to go down well with the betting industry.

Should the betting amount be reduced to £2, Barclays predicts that this would cost Ladbrokes Coral, the UK’s biggest retail bookmaker, £449m in revenues in 2018.

Ladbrokes’ closest competitors, William Hill and Paddy Power, would be down £284m and £55m respectively.

It could also mean bookies will be forced to close shops, with the loss of hundreds of jobs.

Last month, the Gambling Commission found the average gambler lost almost £1,200 a year on FOBTs. It warned more than two million people were problem gamblers or at risk of addiction.