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Ministers cut betting machine stakes from £100 to £2

17 May 2018

May 17 (Reuters) - Britain will cut the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals to just two pounds after the government opted to try to tackle problem gambling and rejected claims that it could cost thousands of jobs.

It comes after experts warned reducing the maximum stake to £2 would be "catastrophic" for the market.

She added: "Even cutting to £10 would leave problem gamblers, and those most vulnerable, exposed to losses that would cause them and their families significant harm".

Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour party and shadow secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, told the BBC's Today programme: "For five years now pretty much everyone in Westminster, Whitehall and in the country has known that these machines have had a very detrimental effect in communities up and down the land.The bookmakers have chosen to take a defiant approach, trying to face down parliament, really, with a very aggressive campaign".

'These machines are a social blight and prey on some of the most vulnerable in society, and we are determined to put a stop to it and build a fairer society for all'.

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The statement said the government had sought to ensure the "right balance between a sector that can grow and contribute to the economy and one that is socially responsible and doing all it should to protect consumers and communities".

25-year old Adam Bradford, who has campaigned for stricter gambling controls on FOBTs after his father hid a 30-year gambling addiction, has welcomed the decision.

Brian Chappell of Justice for Punters said: 'This is fantastic news.

Currently, people can bet up to £100 every 20 seconds on electronic casino games such as roulette.

"The government has handed us a tough challenge today and it will take some time for the full impact to be understood, for our business, the wider high street and key partners like horse racing", said William Hill chief executive Philip Bowcock.

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"We will continue to evolve our retail business in order to adapt to this change and we will support our colleagues as best we can".

The government's action, which marks the biggest regulatory change in the United Kingdom gambling industry since rules were liberalised in 2005, was welcomed by charities, the church and opposition politicians.

- The Gambling Commission to toughen up protections around online gambling including stronger age verification rules and proposals for customer spending limits.

And the age limit for playing National Lottery games will be reviewed under the next licence competition.

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Ministers cut betting machine stakes from £100 to £2