Stuart McMillan MSP has pledged his support to see the maximum stake reduced to £2 on Fixed Odds Betting Terminal machines (FOBTs) at a drop-in event in the Scottish Parliament. £150million is lost on these machines in Scotland each year.
The event was organised in conjuction with the Westminster All-Party Parliamentary Group on FOBTs.
Stuart heard about the staggering amount lost on FOBTs all over the country and in particular Scotland, as campaigners call on the UK government to reduce the stakes to £2.
The highly addictive machines which have been dubbed the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’ allow punters to stake £100 every 20 seconds on electronic versions of casino games such as roulette, but in a low supervision high street bookmaker environment.
New research shows that FOBT problem gamblers could be imposing a cost of £1.5 billion on themselves, their families and their wider social networks. The report published by the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr), found that those on lower incomes or in deprived areas are the main beneficiaries of a reduction to a £2 stake. It showed Glasgow City and the City of Edinburgh are two of the worst affected local authorities in the country, with problem gamblers in the areas suffering to the tune of an estimated £27.06m and £13.71m, respectively.
This is supported by Landman Economics which suggests that £150 million is lost on the machines in Scotland, and has cost the Scottish economy more than 18,000 jobs over the past eight years.
The Westminster All-Party Parliamentary Group on FOBTs, led by Inverclyde’s Ronnie Cowan MP and Carolyn Harris MP, has called the Government to reduce the stakes on these machines to £2 since 2015. Last month, the Group also launched a FOBT Loss Tracker on its website, which shows how much has been lost on the machines since the DCMS review started in October 2016. Over £57 is lost every second. The tracker currently shows that over £2.5 billion, has been lost since 2016 of which over £1 billion would have been from at-risk and addicted gamblers.
The campaign is supported by the General Synod of the Church of Scotland and England, 93 local authorities, the Royal Society for Public Health and politicians from all parties, across the country.
Lending their support to the campaign for a stake reduction, Stuart said:
“The devastating effect FOBTs are having on families, individuals and communities in Scotland cannot be right.
“The amount lost in Scotland alone is staggering. This is money that could put to more productive use in the Scottish economy but instead goes straight into the pocket of bookmakers.
“The UK Government needs to take decisive action and cut the stakes on FOBTs to £2. At this level the harm to families and individuals is significantly reduced.”
The Government is seeking to reduce the stake on FOBTs from £100 to between £50 and £2. It launched a 12 week public consultation on the stake options, which closed on 23rd January and is due to make a decision imminently.
The FOBT APPG is supported by groups including Bacta, The Hippodrome Casino, Novomatic, Praesepe and the Royal Society for Public Health.