Betting machine stakes cut to £2 – expert comment

Caption: Slot machines. Credit: Pixabay

Today the government has announced it will be reducing the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) from £100 to £2.

For nearly a decade the stake size on FOBTs has dominated the debate around gambling in Britain. Introduced into bookmakers in the early 2000’s, FOBTs were unique as they allowed people to play roulette style games, staking up to £100 a spin (or every 20 seconds).The maximum stake on the next most popular gambling machines was £2 – a stark difference.

Responding to today’s announcement, Heather Wardle, an expert in British gambling research at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said:

“When fixed-odds betting terminals were introduced, the British Gambling Prevalence Survey quickly associated them with high levels of problem gambling and gambling-related harm, and this was supported by powerful reports from problem gamblers themselves.

“Previous research on these machines has found they are disproportionately located in areas of greater deprivation and that problem gamblers are more likely to bet more often at the highest stake levels than non-problem gamblers.

“Reducing the maximum stake on these machines is a long awaited decision and signals a powerful intent to really address gambling-related harms, and action on fixed-odds betting terminals needs to just be the start.

“Online gambling is both the fastest growing, and now the largest sector in Great Britain. There are no limits on stakes online, no limits on when you can gamble, no limits on the speed of play, and a high proportion of those who gamble using online casinos or slot style games are problem gamblers.

“If the government are really going to help reduce gambling-related harms across Great Britain, today’s action on FOBTs should be viewed as the start of the journey, not the end.”