We have been following this issue closely and praying for change. The news this week has gone beyond our best hopes.
The Times reported it like this. “A move to cut the maximum stake on highly addictive gambling machines to £2 is set to be announced within weeks, as the Treasury signalled a new deal this week.
Philip Hammond has delayed signing off the move in a Whitehall dispute over how lost taxes would be replaced. However, the Chancellor is understood to have accepted expert recommendations that stakes for FOBTs should be reduced to £2. The government proposed in January that the maximum stake in the machines, called “the crack cocaine of gambling” would be lowered from £100 a spin to somewhere between £2 and £50. These machines raise more than £450 million a year for the Exchequer, so there is a lot of money at stake.
A number of high-profile Tory MPs suggested they were willing to rebel if the government did not back a £2 limit. Sarah Wollaston, chairwoman of the Health and Social Care Select Committee, tweeted: “I will not be supporting any moves that allow high-stakes to continue to destroy lives. The Treasury needs to look at the long-term financial and personal cost of the catastrophic harm to individuals and families and society.”
Share prices have recently risen in the gambling industry, because of a hope that there would be a compromise deal of stake between £20 and £30. But as one recovering addict recently said, “It doesn’t take long to lose £120 at £30 every 20 seconds.” With the Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast coming up in the not too distant future, it is encouraging to see that there are still people of principle within the House of Commons.