Mayor of Newham welcomes £2 stake reduction on “crack cocaine” betting machines
The Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz has welcomed new rules which will see the maximum stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) cut to £2.
The regulation change which was ratified by the House of Lords yesterday means the reduction will be implemented in April 2019.
Newham Council 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.
The council demanded stake reduction as a means to tackle the proliferation of betting shops on its high streets – driven by the enormous profits generated by the machines - which are referred to as the crack cocaine of gambling because of their addictive nature.
FOBTs currently allow £100 to be bet every 20 seconds. According to statistics from the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, nearly £20 million was lost through FOBTs by Newham residents alone in a single year.
Newham has one of the highest concentrations of betting shops in the country – at its height there were 81 in the borough and 12 on East Ham High Street alone.
Welcoming the new regulations, Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz said: “FOBTs are a scourge on our high streets. They have been shown to cluster in deprived communities, contribute to crime and antisocial behaviour as well as cause problem gambling.
“For too long, FOBTs have had a devastating human cost. In Newham alone it is estimated that nearly £20 million is lost by our residents in a single year, and this doesn’t even begin to cover the social cost and human misery these dangerous and highly addictive machines create.
“These regulations come as a welcome relief to Newham residents but it is scandalous that the Government has taken so long, dragging its feet at every stage.”