New sports minister calls the shots on future of FOBT

New sports minister calls the shots on future of FOBT

Friday, June 5, 2015 Totally Gaming
Crouch has openly spoke of her dislike of B2 machines

The future of Fixed Odds Betting terminals (FOBTs) in the UK will be decided by prominent critic of the machines Sports Minister Tracey Crouch, TotallyGaming.com understands. 

Crouch has publicly supported a limit on stakes in the past and is believed to favour a compromise between the £50 per spin currently allowed on the B2 gaming machines, and the £2 demanded by the 93 local councils who petitioned the Government in November 2014.

The decision on FOBTs - which were estimated to have taken £7.8bn (€10.6bn/$11.9bn) in revenue in the UK in 2014 - comes under the jurisdiction of John Whittingdale, who was appointed as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport following last month’s General Election.

However, TotallyGaming.com understands that Whittingdale is set to delegate the decision to Crouch, who in a Parliamentary discussion on FOBTs in April 2013 described herself as a fan of betting on horse racing, but an opponent of the B2 machines.

“I do not think that we should eradicate the machines from betting shops, but I believe that we should look carefully at limiting them or limiting the stakes that people can place on them,” she said.

“I can see the benefits of having FOBTs in betting shops, but I have concerns about the number of such machines in those shops and about the amount of money that can very quickly be staked, lost and won on them. That creates an incentive to people to go in and use the machines.”

She added: “I am not one often to engage in tribal politics and I certainly do not want to do so on this occasion, but that is clearly a consequence of the liberalisation of gambling that we saw under the previous government.”

The government is forced to report back on FOBTs due to the councils appealing to them under the terms of the 2007 Sustainable Communities Act (SCA).

In lauching the petition last year, Sir Robin Wales, the Mayor of Newham, said that he believed communities would benefit from a reduction in stakes and a limit on betting shops on high streets.

He said: “We are fighting hard to ensure that high streets up and down the country are not dominated by betting shops who are solely concerned with making a quick buck on a computer roulette-wheel.

“The councils, of all political parties, have signed up to our Sustainable Communities Act, the largest number ever, to urge government to bring an end to casino-style gambling on the high street, and prevent betting shops from clustering and destroying our shopping districts, especially in deprived areas.”
 

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