Stuart McDonald MP has welcomed a new report by the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) of which he is a member, launched on Tuesday 31st January in the House of Commons.
Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) allow punters to stake £100 every 20 seconds on electronic versions of casino games such as roulette, but in a low supervision high street bookie environment. Political concern and controversy has been growing about the highly addictive nature of the machines, with one campaign group even calling them the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling.
The cross party group of MPs and Peers, which Mr McDonald serves as Vice Chair, published the results of six months of investigations and evidence gathering. The report calls for a substantial reduction in the maximum stake which can be wagered on a FOBT and more powers for local councils to control the proliferation of betting shops.
Mr McDonald recently obtained figures from the Campaign for Fairer Gambling which show that across the Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East parliamentary constituency, £2,029,404 million was lost on FOBTs across 13 bookmakers in a 12-month period.
Lending his support to the campaign for a stake reduction, Stuart McDonald MP said:
“I have been increasingly concerned about the impact FOBTs have had on our community and on problem gamblers.
“Recent figures suggest that around £2 million was lost on these highly addictive machines in the Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East constituency.
“I believe FOBT’s should be properly regulated, and I support the work of the All Party Group, and the findings of this report in calling for a reduction in the maximum stake that can be played on FOBTs.
“It is critical that the Government considers not just the impact on ‘problem gambling’ but wider gambling related harm caused by FOBT machines and the cumulative impact on families and communities that these machines can have.
“The Government has a duty to protect the most vulnerable in our society and to act in the public interest. I strongly urge them to do so and with immediate effect”
The Inquiry comes at a critical time, as the Government considers the responses to its Call for Evidence on Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility and as the Department for Culture, Media and Sport moves towards publishing the Review of Stakes and Prizes.