The UK government has today (Tuesday) said that it is to consider proposals for new maximum stakes of £2 and £50 on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), after branding current laws for the machines as “inappropriate”.
The statement of intent comes after an in-depth review of the gambling sector, headed up the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
Critics of the machines have called on the government to slash the current top bet from £100 (€113/$131) to just £2 to help address gambling problems they believe are related to the games.
However, the review also included proposals for a new £50 maximum stake, as well as a reduction to between £10 and £30.
Publishing the review today, culture minister Tracey Crouch has confirmed the government will now carry out a 12-week consultation to look further into the £2 and £50 options to see which one would be most suitable for the UK market.
“We are consulting on regulatory changes to the maximum stake, looking at options between £50 and £2, in order to reduce the potential for large session losses and therefore to the potentially harmful impact on the player and their wider communities,” Crouch said, according to the BBC.
The Association of British Bookmakers recently warned that if the government were to opt for the £2 option, this could lead to the loss of around 20,000 jobs across the industry, while bookmakers are said to favour the £50 proposal and meet the government in the middle.
The government will take this into account during the consultation, where it will also look at how to protect vulnerable people and children by changing current laws and regulations regarding online gaming and advertising.
“We have seen online gambling grow rapidly and we need to protect players in this space, while also making sure those experiencing harm relating to gambling receive the help they need.
“It is vital that we strike the right balance between socially responsible growth and protecting the most vulnerable, including children, from gambling-related harm”
The UK Gambling Commission will assist in the process by consulting on changes to protect online players, while broadcasters, advertisers and both industry and support groups will establish an annual ad campaign to promote responsible gambling.
A new set of advertising guidelines will also be drawn up to help protect problem gamblers, children and young people, while access to gambling-related content and channels social media by under-18s will be restricted.
In addition, gambling companies will be instructed to increase their funding for research, education and treatment, and should they fail to do so, then they could face a levy.
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