There is a long history of betting shops in many communities that can make a significant contribution to the economy and provide employment.
The success and sustainability of our high streets is also important and although I recognise that many people enjoy gambling as a leisure pursuit, there is also growing public concern about high-speed gaming machines and the evidence from gambling addiction treatment experts which shows that these machines are highly addictive and can cause real harm.
Evidence from the Gambling Commission – the independent regulator – shows that we have 430,000 gambling addicts and 2 million vulnerable players at risk of developing an addiction. This is clearly very concerning. High stakes Fixed Odds Betting Terminals are highly addictive, particularly to problem gamblers and can cause real harm to individuals, their families and local communities.
The government’s recent review concluded that gambling can involve a serious risk of harm to individual players, as well as their families and the communities they live in. The government believes there is a clear case for making a targeted intervention in relation to Fixed Odds Betting Terminals and anticipates that the cap will reduce the ability of problem gamblers to suffer high session losses.
I welcome the decision to reduce the maximum stake for Fixed Odds Betting Terminals to £2 a spin because of the lasting damage these machines can cause. This measure will not be a silver bullet for the wider epidemic of problem gambling but in my view, it will go a long way to solving what has been a particular problem for too long.