Newham accuses Government of dragging its feet over high stakes high street betting

31 October 2017 in Community safety and Council and democracy and Mayor
Sir Robin Wales, the Mayor of Newham has today accused the Government of “dragging its feet” after it announced a further consultation on the future of Fixed Odd Betting Terminals (FOBTs)​.
The Government has today announced a 12 week consultation period to consider a cut in maximum stake allowed on the high street machines from the current £100 to between £50 and £2.

Since 2014, Newham Council has led the largest ever nationwide and cross-party submission under the Sustainable Communities Act, calling for the stakes on FOBTs to be reduced to £2. This submission was supported by 92 local authorities who represent 43%  per cent of the population.

Newham Council believes the Government’s latest move is an unnecessary delay, and one which the country cannot afford. Last year, in Newham alone, it is estimated that nearly £20 million was lost on FOBTs.

The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport launched its review over a year ago and have has already had more than enough time to consider the evidence for stake reduction to £2. Newham Council is concerned that this further consultation is simply a way for Government to kick any action on FOBTs into the long grass once again.

Newham currently has one of the highest concentration of betting shops in the country with 81 across the borough, including 12 on one street alone.

There are clusters of betting shops in deprived areas across the country and the stores, which add little to the local economy, contribute to crime and anti-social behaviour on high streets.

A recent report by the Money Advice Service showed that Newham residents are the most likely in the UK to be burdened by debt.

Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales said: “The case we and 92 other local authorities have made for a stake reduction of £2 is irrefutable.

“£20 million a year lost on these machines  - it is a huge price that some of our poorest and most vulnerable residents are paying because of this Government’s continued inaction.

“Our residents cannot afford any further  delay. The Government must act decisively and reduce the maximum stakes on FOBT machines to £2. Only a stake reduction of £2 will provide protection for our residents and promote responsible gambling.

“If the maximum stake level is set at anything over £2, it will show that the Treasury is putting exchequer profits before people.

“For this Government to show it is genuinely committed to ‘tackling burning injustices’, it must reduce the stakes to £2 and tackle these ‘crack cocaine’ betting machines once and for all.”