The English government’s decision to truly clamp down on the nation’s Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, alternatively known as FOBTs is raising a lot of attention from citizens. These betting machines have gained somewhat of a bad reputation because they seem to be the most addicting form of gambling in the UK. While the UK is sure that these machines will soon be regulated, the Treasury and the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport are currently debating just how much regulation is necessary.
The Church of England has been fighting against FOBTs for quite some time now. They argue that these betting machines have “devastating” effects on those who choose to use them whether it be occasional or habitual use. The church has agreed that FOBTs have been the cause of an increase in violence within local communities as well.
The Treasury, however, worries that cutting the stakes (which is what the Church is advocating for) will be detrimental to the industry and possibly the economy. Sports minister Tracey Crouch added that it could be “financially crippling.”
Local charities focused on addiction gambling are asking for the stakes to be lowered to £2. The Treasury is pushing against this. As of right now, gamblers can bet up to £100 every 20 seconds; this means that those with a severe addiction to gambling can bet and possibly lose £18,000 within a one-hour period.
The government is still discussing the possible new limit on stakes. The Summer was supposed to yield an answer, but now sources are saying there will be a verdict, at the earliest, towards the end of October. Those against enforcing changes to the maximum bet on FOBTs are delighted that this decision is taking so long. Those that are eager to change the limits on terminals are happy that the government is discussing the issue so seriously.
The bishop requested a freedom of information form that shows a 68% rise in violence linked to London betting shops, just in the last seven years; he presumes that gamblers’ anger and frustration at losing so much money is causing players to express their frustration through acts of violence.
Another interesting statistic, 14% of men aged 16-24 use betting machines regularly. The country’s citizens lose £1.8 billion each year to FOBTs. The government will continue to discuss the matter, and the bishop and charities for gambling addictions will continue to push for a lower maximum bet. Hopefully, the gaming industry will have an answer by the end of October, and the Treasury can figure out a way to not let it have detrimental effects on the industry.