William Eichler 24 April 2018

Council chiefs warn Treasury against ‘blocking’ plans to fight gambling addiction

Local authority leaders have warned the Treasury not to ‘block’ plans to reduce the maximum stakes offered by betting machines, arguing it will ‘hinder’ efforts to tackle problem gambling.

The Gambling Commission recommended last March that the Government limit the maximum stakes on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBT) slots to £2 - a move welcomed by local authority leaders.

However, the Local Government Association (LGA) today warned it had heard the Treasury might ‘block’ plans to implement these recommendations.

‘We are extremely concerned by reports that plans to reduce maximum stakes on fixed odds betting terminals have been blocked,’ said Cllr Simon Blackburn, chair of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Safer and Stronger Communities Board.

‘This will hinder efforts to reduce problem gambling and its devastating impacts on individuals and communities.

‘We urge government to keep its promise to cut maximum stakes from £100, a figure which is significantly out of line with other high street gambling machines.

‘Bringing the stakes down to £2 would help prevent vulnerable players from losing £100 in seconds in a single play, which many people cannot afford to lose.’

Cllr Blackburn said the Treasury should take into account the ‘significant costs’ to the public purse problem gambling can create, and added that FOBT machines reduce the amount of money that goes to local businesses.

A HM Treasury spokesperson said: ‘We are fully supportive of DCMS’s [Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport] work to ensure the UK’s gambling regime continues to balance the needs of vulnerable people, consumers who gamble responsibly and those who work in this sector.’

'Any speculation on gambling taxes is just that.'

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