Highest stake on betting terminals slashed to £2 as campaigners win

Culture Secretary Matt Hancock’s announcement comes after a last-ditch plea from betting chiefs to Theresa May failed.

Culture Secretary Matt Hancock announced the highest stake for fixed-odds slot machines in bookes will be cut to £2

 

It will also draw to an end a mammoth three year-long Cabinet fight over what do about the bookie shop machines, dubbed the crack cocaine of high street gambling.

The tough move will delight campaigners, who have waged a long fight to cut the stake limit from £100 after insisting the machines destroyed lives.

Chancellor Philip Hammond opposed a £2 stake, fearing he will lose much of the £450m a year taken in Machine Gaming Duty – which is 25 per cent on the total £1.8bn a year blown on FOBTs.

The Treasury wanted the maximum stake reduced from to £20, and was joined by betting shop bosses who warned warned of thousands of job losses and shop closures.

 

But the PM eventually sided with Mr Hancock and Sports Minister Tracey Crouch, leaving Mr Hammond isolated.

No10 also feared a large Tory backbench rebellion over the issue.

A senior government source said: “Theresa was on the fence for a while, but when she came off it in favour of going for £2 it was all over for Hammond and he had to give in.

“The numbers in the Commons decided it.”

John White, the CEO of amusement industry group BACTA – who have campaigned against FOBTs – said: “If the stake has been reduced to £2, this is a terrific win that pays testament to the wide-ranging campaign for stake reduction from concerned individuals and organisations across politics, public health and the wider gaming sector.

 

 

“We warmly welcome this announcement as it puts player protection first, and will allow the gambling industry as a whole to move forwards and create a safer, more socially responsible environment for consumers.

“We hope this is implemented without delay.”

The cost of addictive gambling to society has been put at £1bn.

High street giant Betfred said this week that it would axe as many as 4,500 jobs if the maximum stake went down to £2.

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