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MPs back Newham Council campaign to crack down on bookies high stake gambling machines

31 January 2017 in Community neighbourhoods and Council and democracy and Mayor
Newham Council warmly welcomes a Parliamentary report calling on the Government to slash the maximum stake allowed on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs).
​The decision by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), who’ve been studying the machines, dubbed the “crack cocaine of gambling”, follows a long running campaign by local authorities, led by Newham.

In November 2014 Newham led 92 other local authorities from across the political spectrum to submit a Sustainable Communities Act submission to reduce the stakes on FOBTs.

The campaign specifically targets the B2 category machines that can be found in high street betting shops. They allow the customer to place a maximum bet of £100 every 20 seconds. This hard gambling in an unregulated environment is clearly unacceptable and that is why Newham believes the maximum stake should be reduced to £2, bringing them in line with other high street machines. 

During the group’s investigation into FOBTs, APPG chair Carolyn Harris MP, heard evidence from Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, and also visited the borough to see for herself the blight caused to high streets by proliferation of betting shops.

In just one Newham street – High Street North, East Ham – there are currently 12 betting shops operating – while across the borough there are 84 bookies, that’s six for every square mile of the borough.

Significantly, there are more than twice as many betting shops in the poorest 55 boroughs compared with the most affluent 115, which are equivalent by population. In Newham there has been a 47% increase in the number of betting shop licences in the borough since the introduction of the 2005 Gambling Act.

The current legislation limits betting shops to four of these high stake machines per shop. But as the Newham experience illustrates, this has led to a huge proliferation of betting shops on the borough’s high streets.

The Government is currently reviewing FOBTs as part of a wider look at the gambling industry, and is due to publish it’s findings later this year.

Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales said: “I welcome this report and am delighted that MPs from across the country and political spectrum have shown their support for a maximum £2 stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals.

“Newham Council has long campaigned for this and I was delighted to be able to present evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on the impact on the communities across the country of such machines. The Government must recognise this comprehensive report and finally bring FOBT stakes in line with other high street gambling machines. The gambling industry has consistently ignored our pleas to stop blighting our high streets with the clustering of betting shops, which bring anti-social behaviour and crime to the heart of our communities.

“Newham fully supports the APPG findings and urges the Government to put people and communities before profit. If the Government is to prove it is on the side of both consumers and communities, it must act quickly to reduce the maximum stake to £2 and remove high stake, hard gambling from the high street.”