The maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) will be reduced from £100 to £2 under new rules unveiled by the government.
FOBTs, where players gamble on games such as roulette and could previously stake up to £100 every 20 seconds, have been widely derided as a social blight that targets gambling addicts, but bookmakers refused to address the situation until forced to by government action.
William Hill, which led a campaign against further regulation of FOBTs under the “Back Your Local Bookie” campaign has called the government’s decision “unprecedented” and warned it could cause the closure of hundreds of its shops around the country.
Culture Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Sometimes in politics you have the chance to really do something to help people and, in particular, this case to help some very vulnerable people – hundreds of thousands of people who lose thousands of pounds on these machines.”
Tom Watson, Labour’s shadow culture secretary, said: “This announcement signals the end of the reign of destruction and misery that FOBTs have brought on the lives of gambling addicts and their families and communities for too many years.
It is a victory for cross-party campaigners who have worked tirelessly for this day over many years.
This won’t be a silver bullet for the wider epidemic of problem gambling in the U.K. but it will go a long way to solving what has been a particular evil for too long.
It’s not often that the Opposition congratulates a Government minister, but Tracey Crouch has made the right decision today.”
The government said the stake limit would come into effect some time next year, but would not commit to an exact timetable and said it hoped to work with the industry to implement the policy.