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Call for party leaders to end casino-style gambling on the high street

12 March 2015 in Business and Community safety and Council and democracy and Mayor
Party leaders are being called on to make a manifesto commitment to end casino-style gambling on the high street.
The Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales and Councillor Tony Page, the Local Government Association’s licensing spokesperson, have written a joint letter to party leaders, urging them to make a promise to reduce the maximum stakes on fixed odds betting terminal  (FOBTs) from £100 to £2. This would bring these machines, known as the “crack cocaine” of the gambling industry, in line with other gaming terminals available on the high street.
 
In November, Newham Council, with the support of 92 other local authorities from across the political spectrum, submitted the largest ever Sustainable Communities Act (SCA) proposal to reduce the high stakes on FOBTs.
 
Betting shops chains cluster their stores together, often in deprived areas, with licensing restrictions limiting them to four machines per store. Councils have complained of significant crime and anti-social behaviour associated with these outlets and believe that reducing the casino-style stakes will deter further betting shops from opening in our town centres.
 
In the joint letter, Sir Robin and Cllr Page said: “None of the measures implemented or currently proposed by industry or government will effectively address this issue. 
 
“Reducing the stakes on these machines is a crucial step which we would hope to see introduced alongside additional licensing measures to help reverse the decline of high streets nationwide. This would be real localism at work.”
 
The letter has been sent to party leaders ahead of an event hosted by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling today (Thursday 12 March) which will discuss the impact of FOBTs on the industry and players.
 
Figures produced by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling highlight that in Newham alone £516.1 million was gambled on FOBTs during 2014. Sir Robin Wales will be speaking at the event, alongside academics and industry experts, where he will publically call for all party leaders to make a manifesto commitment to reduce FOBT stakes to £2.