Daniel Hambury/PA Wire

Christian groups urge Government to be much stronger on betting rules

Tue 31 Oct 2017
By Tola Mbakwe

A group of Churches and faith-based organisations have welcomed the Government’s announcement of a consultation on proposals for changes to gaming machines and social responsibility measures.

The maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) - known as the crack cocaine of gambling - is to be cut from £100 to between £50 and £2.

The high-stake, high-speed electronic casino games are said to be dangerously addictive and currently allow a stake of up to £100 every 20 seconds, enabling a player to theoretically gamble away £18,000 an hour.

However, the groups including The Salvation Army, The Methodist Church, the Evangelical Alliance UK and  CARE, warned that the range of options presented for a maximum stake for fixed odd betting terminals is too wide.

In a joint statement they said: “Fixed odds betting terminals present serious problems in society and for local communities, families and individuals. 

“Evidence links them to patterns of addictive behaviour, large financial losses and anti-social and criminal behaviour.

"While we welcome the Government’s consultation, anything approaching an upper limit of £50 would not go far enough to reduce the negative impact these machines can have on individuals, families and the wider society.

“Not only is there a major challenge presented by fixed odds betting terminals, there are also wider issues associated with gambling that require serious political commitment to address.”

Ian Geary, The Salvation Army's Public Affairs Adviser, told Premier he would like the government to view gambling addiction as a public health issue and also have stricter rules on gambling advertisement.

He said: “We’d like to see a real tight water-shed around advertising we see.

“At the moment it’s impossible to see a sporting event on TV where there isn’t gambling advertising.”

He added that gambling is a topic that Christians should care about because it’s affecting the poor and vulnerable in society.

Listen to Ian Geary speaking with Premier’s Tola Mbakwe here:

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