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Council supports proposals to reduce gaming machine stakes

Knowsley Council is supporting a call for party leaders to reduce the stakes on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) as part of their manifesto.

In November, the council supported a proposal under the Sustainable Communities Act (SCA) calling on the government to reduce the casino-style stakes from £100 to £2 – in line with other gaming machines available on the high street. This followed research undertaken across the Liverpool City Region last year by the University of Liverpool to review the economic and social impact of Fixed Odds Terminals within betting shops, given the potential for individuals to lose significant sums of money in a short period of time.

Respondents across the Liverpool City Region who were interviewed reported a wide range of impacts from fixed odds betting terminals including impact on family life, relationships and employment, as well as financial impacts.  Such problem gambling can lead to problems with sleep, due to anxiety, and has a ‘ripple’ effect, as one person’s gambling problems can impact upon a lot of people.

In addition and to try and limit gambling outlets in the borough, the council has also introduced a complete ban on any new betting shops in council owned shopping parades following a review in March 2012.

This week the Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales, who led the SCA submission and Councillor Tony Page, the Local Government Association’s licensing spokesperson, have written a joint letter to party leaders, urging them to commit to making this reduction a manifesto promise.

In the joint letter, Sir Robin and Cllr Page said: “None of the measures implemented or currently proposed by industry or government will effectively address this issue.

“Reducing the stakes on these machines is a crucial step which we would hope to see introduced alongside additional licensing measures to help reverse the decline of high streets nationwide. This would be real localism at work.”

The letter has been sent to party leaders ahead of an event hosted by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling today (Thursday 12 March) which will discuss the impact of FOBTs on the industry and players.

Cllr Ron Round, Leader of Knowsley Council, added “I fully support the work around reducing gaming machine stakes.  As we know from the research undertaken last year across the Liverpool City Region, gaming machines can create risks whereby residents are losing money they can’t afford.  Whilst reducing the stakes won’t fully protect people from gambling away large amounts of money, it is a step in the right direction to help to limit the amount of money they could lose.”

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