LGA calls for on government to bring forward FOBT stake cut
The Local Government Association (LGA) has called for the UK government to bring forward the implementation of the new maximum £2 stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) to Spring 2019 at the latest.
The LGA’s call stems from the concern that as long as the government does not implement the new rules, both financial and public costs will continue to mount.
Utilising UK Gambling statistics, the LGA claims that £5m per day is being lost on FOBTs, amounting to £3.6bn being lost in the two years until the new stake limit is implemented.
With problem gambling largely affecting vulnerable individuals, costs on other public services, such as health and the justice system, will also increase.
Local councils have continued to raise concerns about the effects of excessive FOBT use and the high-stakes currently available. In response, the LGA, which represents 370 councils across England and Wales, is set to publish a new guide detailing how councils can deal with problem gambling next week.
After a lengthy review, FOBT stakes were famously cut by the maximum amount from £100 to £2 in May. Gambling operators continue to appeal to government to try to delay the implementation of the new rules, with the LGA saying government should resist this industry pressure and expedite implementation.
Councillor Simon Blackburn, the Chair of the LGA Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said:
The harm and anti-social behaviour these machines can cause has become an issue of growing national concern. Councils are extremely concerned about reports that the betting industry are blocking an early implementation. This is hugely worrying and frankly unacceptable. The Government needs to resist any pressure and move quickly to implement these changes to prevent further harm in our society. Failing to reduce the stakes will mean that problem gamblers and tax payers continue to experience significant costs linked to FOBTs. Problem gambling connected to these machines alone is estimated to cost the NHS, councils and the criminal justice system around £200m per year. It can also cause substantial effects to people’s health and wellbeing, as well as result in crime and disorder, family breakdowns and homelessness.– Councillor Simon Blackburn, Chair of the LGA Safer and Stronger Communities Board