The anti-gambling media in the UK was out in force over the weekend, with several prominent mainstream press outlets claiming that the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) is about to be cut to GBP 2 when the gambling review consultative period draws to a close in the near future.
The Reuters news agency quoted a Sunday Times report that new Culture Secretary Matt Hancock is supportive of a drastic cut.
The Sunday Times reported that the “overwhelming” response to the review had persuaded the government to reduce the maximum to two pounds.
“Matt (Hancock) wants the new stake to be at the bottom of the range,” the newspaper quoted a Hancock ally as saying. “His attitude to (the terminals) is very negative because it takes money from reasonable, mature betting, like on the horses.”
A Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport spokeswoman said the government was “currently consulting on what the exact cut should be, and would make a final decision in due course once all the evidence has been considered”.
“We are clear that FOBT stakes will be cut to ensure we have a safe and sustainable industry where vulnerable people and children are protected,” she said.
FOBT punters in retail betting shops can currently deposit as much as GBP 100, but the machines have attracted intense action group, political and media opposition, leading to a government decision in October that the maximum stake on the machines would be reduced to somewhere between GBP 2 and GBP 50 following a 12-week consultative period which ends this week.
Bookmakers have warned that such drastic cuts could lead to job losses and shop closures due to the important contribution that FOBTs make to their revenues.