‘Moral duty’ to cut betting stake

I recently co-signed a cross-party letter to the The Times urging the government to reduce the stake on fixed odds betting terminals to £2.

As the Government gets close to making a decision on the stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), we are urging the Government to make the decision which is the best interests of our country and make the stake £2.

FOBTs are causing many social harms and leading to huge financial losses for those who can least afford it. In a recent Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) report a reduction in the stake to £2 was called for because it is the right level. The Gambling Commission has also advised that they recommend a stake of £30 or less and they do not in any way object to a stake of £2, despite some misrepresentation of this in the media.

It is of profound concern that in 2015/6, there were over 230,000 individual sessions in which a user lost over £1,000. These machines are reportedly increasing the risk of problem gambling which, in turn, carries a significant economic and societal cost.  The Centre for Economics and Business Research estimates that this costs the UK £1.5bn a year when its impact on wider social welfare is taken into account – including areas such as employment, mental health and financial stability.  Beyond this, FOBTs are affecting society more widely driving violent crime and money laundering.

Parts of the gambling industry speak of the potential loss to the economy if these machines are restricted to a maximum £2 stake. The Centre for Economics and Business Research find that the impact of a £2 stake reduction on bookmakers has been exaggerated. The economic impact on bookmakers of lower FOBT stakes could be significantly less than existing estimates have suggested since these do not take account of the range of possible outcomes and behavioural responses that could take place. Their model projects that industry losses from a £2 stake could be up to 47% lower.

Letter to The Times: ‘Moral duty’ to cut betting stake

Sir, As the government nears making a decision on the stake on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs), we urge the prime minister to make the decision in the best interests of our country and reduce the stake to £2.

FOBTs cause much social harm and huge losses for those who can least afford it. It is of profound concern that last year there were more than 230,000 individual sessions in which a user lost more than £1,000.

These machines are reportedly increasing the risk of problem gambling which, in turn, carries a significant economic and societal cost. The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) estimates that this costs the UK £1.5 billion a year. Beyond this, FOBTs are driving violent crime and money laundering.

Parts of the gambling industry speak of the potential loss to the economy if these machines are restricted to £2. Yet the CEBR finds that the impact has been exaggerated. Its model projects that industry losses could be up to 47 per cent lower.

The government has a moral duty to reduce the stake on FOBTs to £2 to protect the most vulnerable in our society including poorer communities, families and children.

Iain Duncan Smith MP; Carolyn Harris MP; Ronnie Cowan MP; Lord Clement-Jones; Lord Foster of Bath; David Lammy MP; Graham Jones MP; Stephen Timms MP; David Linden MP; Nicky Morgan MP; Sir Peter Bottomley MP; Ed Vaisey MP; Tim Loughton MP; Paul Masterson MP; Zac Goldsmith MP; Nadine Dorries MP; Tom Tugendhat MP; Heidi Allan MP; Steve Double MP; Craig Mackinlay MP; Richard Graham MP; Charlie Elphicke MP; Eddie Hughes MP; Caroline Spelman MP; Richard Bacon MP; Andrew Selous MP; Charles Walker MP; Susan Elan Jones MP; Jo Stevens MP; Jessica Morden MP; Tonia Antoniazzi MP; Jim McMahon MP; Judith Cummins MP; Marion Fellows MP; Stuart McDonald MP; Alison Thewliss MP; Patricia Gibson MP; Patrick Grady MP; Angela Crawley MP; Stewart McDonald MP; Alan Brown MP; Jim Shannon MP