While welcoming the decision by the UK Government to devolve powers over limiting the number of FOBTs in new bookmakers to the Scottish Parliament, SNP MSP Stuart McMillan has also expressed his disappointment at proposals the he thinks does not go “far enough”.
The SNP man has spent the last year campaigning against the proliferation of FOBTs in our communities and has called on the UK Government to reduce the maximum stake from £100 per play to £2.
The proposals set out by the UK Government today will allow Scottish Ministers to decide how many FOBTS are allowed in betting shops obtaining a new betting licence, but does not allow current changes to be made to current betting shops licences. Powers over gambling and stake limits are to be reserved to Westminster.
Commenting Mr McMillan said:
“While I of course welcome the proposal to allow the Scottish Government to decide how many FOBTs are in new betting shops, I do not think it goes far enough.
“Being able to change the number of FOBTs in new premises does not tackle the current issue of the number of betting shops and FOBTs on our High Streets. Any bookmaker buying a premises which currently has a licence will also not be bound by any changes made.
“Former gamblers and even current gamblers are all certain, the best way to stop the amount of money being lost in these machines is to limit the maximum stake from £100 to £2. The power to do this remains at Westminster.
This clause will devolve legislative competence to the Scottish Parliament and executive
competence to the Scottish Ministers to vary the number of FOBTs authorised by a
betting premises licence by inserting a specific exemption into B9 of Part 2 of Schedule
5 to the 1998 Act. The exception will permit the variation of the number of FOBTs
authorised by virtue of a new betting premises licence, but does not permit variation of
the number of such gaming machines authorised by existing betting premises licences.
For this purpose, Scottish Ministers will be given power to make an order (following the
affirmative procedure) to vary the number of these FOBTs and will, as a result, have a
greater say over how many of these gaming machines may be made available for use in