Britain slashes top stake on gambling machines to 2 pounds

Fixed-odds betting terminals will have their maximum stakes limited to £2

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has welcomed the Government's decision to cut the maximum stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) from £100 to £2. It has just slashed the maximum stake on controversial gambling machines to £2 ($2.7, 2.3 euros) per spin, as it vowed "to protect the most vulnerable in society" from harmful losses.

Bookmaker William Hill, which generates just over half its retail revenues from FOBTs, described the United Kingdom government's decision as "unprecedented" and warned that 900 of its shops could become loss-making, potentially leading to job losses.

The age limit for playing National Lottery games will also be reviewed as part of the next licence competition, with the government saying it was needed to take into account "developments in the market and the risk of harm to young people".

Minister for sport and civil society Tracey Crouch
Minister for sport and civil society Tracey Crouch

Ms Crouch added: "Problem gambling can devastate individuals' lives, families and communities". 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.

Minister for sport and civil society Tracy Crouch announced the shake-up today, following a consultation with the public and the industry to try and deliver a balance for the industry to still contribute to the economy, but is also "socially responsible" and protecting consumers as much as possible.

The Gambling Commission's consultation on FOBTs for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) recommended a limit of up to £30.

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Bookmaker William Hill said it will see a reduction in total gaming net revenue of 35%-45% following the move.

The decision follows complaints that the machines, which enable people to bet up to £100 every 20 seconds on electronic games such as roulette, were highly addictive and had led to gamblers building up big losses.

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.

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Responding to the changes, Philip Bowcock, chief executive of William Hill, said: "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 horseracing".

Changes to the stake will need to be brought through leglislation and will need to be approved by parliament.

It also confirmed a raft of measures to clamp down on the sector, including plans to toughen up protections around online gambling, such as introducing stronger age verification rules and affordability checks.

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A major multi-million pound advertising campaign promoting responsible gambling, supported by industry and GambleAware, will be launched later this year.

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