Responding to the Government’s announcement that maximum stakes on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) could be reduced from £100 to £2 as part of a review, Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said:
“It’s extremely positive that government is committed to the review and looks set to substantially reduce FOBT stakes, but we are pushing for the final outcome to be £2, which is what the LGA has long-called for, to help protect vulnerable people from harm.
“Not only are £100 maximum stakes significantly out of line with maximum amount that can be waged on other gaming machines, but there is credible evidence that these machines may be particularly addictive and can harm vulnerable players – for example, through spiralling debt – as well as being linked to anti-social behaviour and crime in betting shops.
“However, regulating gaming machines is about more than just stakes, and we urge government to give councils powers to prevent the opening of new betting shops in areas where there are already multiple premises. A new cumulative impact test would give councils the power to veto new bookmakers’ in areas already saturated by betting shops.
Government also needs to look at curbs on the volume of gambling advertising, particularly where it is accessible by children.
“Councils are not anti-gambling but a greater balance is needed between commercial freedom and the impact on local communities.”