Bacta President Gabi Stergides has welcomed the UK government’s decision to cut the maximum stake of fixed odds betting terminals to £2, which was announced at 7am this morning (17 May).
In a statement issued to media he said: “We warmly welcome this announcement. A stake reduction to £2 has long been needed to protect consumers from the harm caused by FOBTs. This is a decision that puts player protection first, and will allow the gambling industry as a whole to move forwards and create a safer, more socially responsible environment for consumers.” He continued: “It is a testament to the wide-ranging campaign for stake reduction from concerned individuals and organisations across politics, public health and the wider gaming sector. The Government has made the right decision and it now needs to be implemented without delay.”
Bacta has been at the vanguard of the political, social and economic arguments that have convinced government to reduce the stake to £2, a decision that flies in the face of the advice provided by the Gambling Commission which had identified a stake of between £20 and £30 as its preferred option. However reflecting on the decision Gambling Commission Chief Executive Neil McArthur said: “We’re pleased Government has supported a comprehensive package of measures to protect consumers, and that this includes a substantial stake cut. Whilst we welcome the reduced stake, that alone will not be enough to address the risks of harm that can come from all forms of gambling.
“That is why we will continue to act in other ways to reduce those risks– including delivering enhanced consumer protection for online gambling in the areas of customer verification, fairness and interaction, implementing strong penalties for businesses who breach advertising guidelines, and reviewing gambling product characteristics to identify whether particular features pose greater risk of harm than others.
“We are particularly pleased that Government has formally recognised gambling related harm as a public health issue and has asked Public Health England to conduct an evidence review to inform action on prevention and treatment. This marks an important step forward in understanding the wider harms that problem gambling can have in our communities.”
It should not be forgotten that tackling gambling-related harm is a complex issue, so we will support the Government in monitoring the impact that any of the changes announced today will have.”
In March Bacta joined forces with a broad range of stakeholders and individuals including the Church of England, The Royal Society for Public Health, numerous local authorities, gambling addicts, reformed addicts and representatives from both the House of Lords and the House of Commons in an unequivocal show of support for a reduction in the maximum FOBT stake to £2. The All Party Parliamentary Group Impact Event drew on the findings of the influential Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), whose key findings demonstrate the impact of a maximum £2 FOBT stake to be up to 47 percent lower than that suggested by the Government’s initial impact assessment.