UK Government Expected To Cut Maximum Gambling Machine Stake To GBP2

LONDON (Alliance News) - Bookmakers are nervously awaiting an official announcement on whether ...

Alliance News 17 May, 2018 | 6:35AM
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LONDON (Alliance News) - Bookmakers are nervously awaiting an official announcement on whether the UK government will slash the amount people can stake on fixed-odds betting terminals.

The controversial machines have been described as the "crack cocaine" of gambling, which can lead to punters placing bets of up to GBP100 every 20 seconds.

The government is thought to be considering a dramatic reduction in the maximum stake to just GBP2 - a move which would please campaigners but could cost jobs in betting shops across the country.

William Hill PLC this week warned that new government regulations could leave the company at risk of a foreign takeover and jeopardise 20,000 British jobs.

In a strongly worded letter, the bookmaker's chairman, Roger Devlin, rebuked Culture Secretary Matt Hancock for making a "catastrophic" decision.

"The jobs of around 20,000 people are at risk if the decision is made to cut...gaming machine stakes to GBP2.

"Consolidation within our sector continues and I would also not want to see the impact of a disproportionate triennial outcome being a factor in the name of William Hill being added to the list of companies now in foreign ownership," he said.

The recommendations of a review carried out by the gambling regulator earlier this year said the maximum stake for FOBTs should be set at or below GBP30.

But the government is widely expected to follow advice from campaigners for a more drastic reduction.

Devlin pointed out that pressing ahead with the GBP2 limit will see GBP1 billion "forfeited to the Treasury at a time when funding of public services is under considerable pressure".

Expecting confirmation of a GBP2 limit, Mike Dixon, chief executive of drug and alcohol charity Addaction, said: ""This is a big and important change for many people we work with.

"Matt Hancock deserves real credit for taking this decision.

"It will change a lot of people's lives, and stop gambling companies preying on people when they're most vulnerable.

"The danger now is that government thinks they've done enough. Last year just one in 50 people with a serious gambling problem got proper help.

"We urgently need the industry to step up and fund treatment properly through a levy."

By David Hughes, Chief Political Correspondent

source: Press Association

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Securities Mentioned in Article
Security Name Price Change (%) Morningstar
William Hill PLC 173.53 GBX 1.69 -
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