The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport had planned to announce a reduction in the minimum stake on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) to £2. At the moment, bets of up to £100 are permitted. The terminals are fast and hard to leave. A new bet arises every 20 seconds on roulette. Punters can lose thousands of pounds in a matter of minutes.
The government conducted a review, and a £2 limit was set to be imposed. However, after an intervention from the Secretary of State for work and pensions, Esther McVey, the announcement has been delayed. The industry had given up lobbying. The Times reports that it is possible that the Prime Minister herself may grant a higher limit, such as the £30 recommended by the Gambling Commission. We need to pray that Theresa May does not take this step. Individuals do have to take responsibility for their own behaviour. But gambling is a form of addiction, and the addict is no longer a wholly rational agent. The state must step in to help those who can no longer help themselves.