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Bishop left disappointed by gambling recommendations

Mon 19 Mar 2018
By Marcus Jones

A Church of England bishop who has been campaigning on the issue of problem gambling has told Premier he's disappointed by recommendations put forward by the Gambling Commission on Monday.

Rt Rev Dr Alan Smith, of St Albans, has long been calling for a maximum stake of £2 to be introduced to fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

As it stands, you can bet £100 every 20 seconds, enabling a player to theoretically gamble away £18,000 an hour.

 

The Gambling Commission has said the stake limit for FOBT non-slot games, including roulette, should be set at £30 or less.

While acknowledging a reduction had been made, speaking on Premier's News Hour, Bishop Alan said: "We need much more radical action. Anything other than a £2 limit is a huge wasted opportunity and isn't going to protect the most vulnerable.

"This isn't just some comment on a light form of entertainment that a few people get involved in.

"For some families, partners and children are being left destitute, so the social costs are huge."

Defending the recommendations, Gambling Commission chief executive Neil McArthur said: "We've put consumers at the heart of our advice - advice which is based on the best available evidence and is focused on reducing the risk of gambling-related harm.

"In our judgment, a stake cut for fixed-odds betting terminals alone doesn't go far enough to protect vulnerable people.

"That is why we have recommended a stake cut plus a comprehensive package of other measures to protect consumers.

"We have proposed actions that will tackle both the risk of harm and provide solutions that are sustainable in the longer term."

The government will now consider the recommendations and won't necessarily agree to them.

Encouraging ministers to reconsider, Bishop Alan said: "Don't miss this opportunity...this form of gambling - which has caused so much problem particularly amongst poorer people - please take it down to £2."

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