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UK Government announcement on gambling machines - expert comment

The UK Government has announced that the maximum bet on fixed-odds betting terminals will be cut from April. Responding to the announcement, Heather Wardle, gambling behaviour expert at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said:

“For the past five years so-called Fixed Odd Betting Terminals have dominated debate about the impact of gambling upon individuals, families, communities and society, culminating in the decision to reduce stake sizes from £100 to £2 to help reduce harms. Today’s decision to not wait until October 2019 to implement these changes is the right one.

“Yet, we should not forget that these machines are just one part of gambling provision and that other forms of gambling, like online casinos, show similarly high levels of problematic play, and that online gambling is the largest growth sector for the industry.

“Gambling is a public health issue and a joined-up strategic approach to preventing harms is needed by Government. The harms from gambling can have far reaching consequences, leading to poor health and wellbeing, disrupted and ruptured relationships and in most severe instances, thoughts of suicide and loss of life. The job is only half done and more action is needed to protect people from gambling-related harms.”