SNP MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde, Stuart McMillan MSP, has welcomed the news that the UK Government will now implement a reduced £2 stake on Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) in April 2019, six months earlier than planned.
This follows the recent resignation of Tracey Crouch as sports minister due to the Chancellor’s delay in enforcing the stake reduction, and growing cross-party pressure on the UK Chancellor, Philip Hammond.
Commenting on the UK Government’s u-turn, Mr McMillan said:
“I have long campaigned for the stake on FOBTs to be reduced to £2, as the original stake of £100 allows people to gamble up to £300 per minute.
“Being the first MSP to raise the issue of FOBTs in the Scottish Parliament, my actions led to the Scotland Act 2016 including some powers in this area being devolved to Scotland. The power over their stakes however remained at Westminster.
“These highly addictive machines, considered the crack-cocaine of gambling, have plunged people into crisis in Inverclyde and across Scotland and the UK, so I’m delighted that the Chancellor has finally came to his senses on the matter.
“It should never have taken this long, and people should never have been able to spend entire wage packets in mere minutes, but due to their high taxable value, the UK Conservative Government chose to delay action on FOBTs again and again and again – all at the expense of gambling addicts and their families.
“I was beyond frustrated to hear that the Chancellor was going to further delay action until October 2019 to reduce the stake on FOBTs, despite pressure from the Scottish Government and within his own party. However, I am glad that thanks to cross-party support, Mr Hammond has now chosen to bring that date forward to April 2019.
“With an increasing number of people having to rely on foodbanks and homelessness rising in the UK for the first time in nine years, this move couldn’t have come soon enough, and I hope it will reduce the harm of gambling addition, which often causes people to become homeless or unable to put food on the table.”