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Statement from Newham Council Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz following the announcement of a government U-turn to cut delay to £2 FOBT maximum stake

14 November 2018 in Community safety and Mayor
The reduction will now take effect in April 2019 following MPs rebellion and minister’s resignation.
Mayor Fiaz said:  “Today’s announcement is long overdue and will come as a relief to our residents but is scandalous that it has taken so long.

“The weight of evidence showing the deeply destructive social impact of these machines is overwhelming. Back in 2014, local authorities across the country called for urgent action to address these dangerous and highly addictive machines and our calls have finally been answered, albeit  five years late.

“For too long, FOBTs have had a devastating human cost on the lives of our residents. They have been shown to cluster in deprived communities, contribute to crime and anti–social behaviour as well as problem gambling.

“Today’s announcement will, hopefully, remove this blight from our high streets and kick-start a wider conversation about responsible gambling practices as there’s more to be done to protect the most vulnerable people in society.”

Background:

This announcement is the culmination of a long running cross-party, national campaign. We are delighted the Government has finally listened to local leaders across the country that called on the Chancellor in an open letter ahead of the Budget to reduce the stake to £2 as soon as possible.

Newham has been committed to tackling FOBTs and the proliferation of betting shops for many years to ensure that safe, responsible gambling takes place on our high streets and that deprived communities are not exploited.

Newham was the first local authority to campaign for FOBT stake reduction and in 2014 submitted the largest ever Sustainable Communities Act (SCA) proposal, backed by 92 other councils calling for a FOBT stake reduction to £2.

Newham led the campaign because the borough saw its high streets blighted with 81 betting shops – nearly doubling the numbers of betting shops in the borough since the Gambling Act came into force in 2007. This massive increase was driven by the gambling industry’s profits from FOBTs with these machines accounting for over half of bookmakers’ profits.