‘Crack cocaine’ gambling machines stakes slashed from £100 to £2

Maximum stake on ‘crack cocaine’ gambling machines will be slashed from £100 to £2 – but not until 2020

  • Maximum stake on ‘crack cocaine’ gambling machines slashed from £100 to £2
  • But the changes will not come into effect until 2020, ministers will announced 
  • The long-awaited decision follows months of Whitehall wrangling over changes

The maximum stake on ‘crack cocaine’ gambling machines will be slashed from £100 to £2 – but not until 2020, ministers will announce today

The maximum stake on ‘crack cocaine’ gambling machines will be slashed from £100 to £2 – but not until 2020, ministers will announce today.

The dramatic cut of 98 per cent in the amount which can be wagered and lost is a huge victory for the Daily Mail’s campaign against fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

However, in a late concession, it could be up to two years before the new limit comes into force, the Mail understands. 

The long-awaited decision follows months of Whitehall wrangling and a sustained lobbying campaign by bookmaking firms which make a fortune from FOBTs and claimed cutting the stake to £2 could lose the Treasury £1.1billion over three years.

Culture Secretary Matt Hancock has pushed for a £2 stake but ran into opposition from Chancellor Philip Hammond and Treasury officials.

But Prime Minister Theresa May brokered a compromise deal under which taxes on the gambling industry will rise to pay for lost tax revenue estimated at £400million a year.

Brian Chappell of Justice for Punters said: ‘This is fantastic news. Betting shops will now be a much safer environment for customers and staff.’

Currently gamblers can bet, and lose, £100 every 20 seconds meaning potentially thousands of pounds in a single session.

Since Labour’s 2005 Gambling Act the number of FOBTs – which offer casino-style games such as roulette – has increased from 20,000 to nearly 35,000.

Each generates an average of £50,000 a year for bookmakers.

Since Labour’s 2005 Gambling Act the number of FOBTs – which offer casino-style games such as roulette – has increased from 20,000 to nearly 35,000 (stock image)

But the machines are blamed for addiction, crime, debt, violence and family breakdown and their users are concentrated in some of the poorest communities. 

Ministers are understood to have concluded that a £2 stake is needed to protect vulnerable gamblers. 

Evidence compiled by culture minister Tracey Crouch found high rates of problem gambling by FOBT users.

When the Government launched policy proposals on FOBTs last year it was feared the stake could be kept as high as £30. But the shift to £2 was backed by council leaders, church groups, charities, gambling campaigners and MPs from across the political spectrum.

The decision will require a vote by MPs but should sail through Parliament.

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