Carolyn Harris attended an ‘extraordinary’ meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on FOBTs in Parliament on Monday 19th March. During the meeting Mrs Harris heard from those whose lives have been impacted by the machines, key stakeholders in the debate, including local government.
The event follows the publication of a new survey by YouGov which shows that 75% of MPs support a considerable stake reduction on FOBTs and with 62% calling for a £2 stake.
The survey further shows that the 68% of MPs support the claim that the machines are a major source of problem gambling.
Problem gambling affects 430,000 people in the UK annually. As well as this being a tragedy for gamblers themselves and their families, a recent report showed that problem gambling also carries a huge societal cost. It estimates that this cost to the UK is £1.5bn a year when its impact on wider social welfare is taken into account – including areas such as employment, mental health and financial stability. 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.
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 that period of which over £1 billion will be from at-risk and addicted gamblers.
Lending her support to the campaign for a stake reduction, Carolyn Harris MP said:
“The devastating effect FOBTs are having on families, individuals and communities cannot be right.
“The APPG tracker just highlights the rate at which those who can least afford it are losing money on these machines.
“The Government needs to take a decisive action and cut the stakes on FOBTs to £2. At this level the harm to families and individuals is significantly reduced.”
Supporters of the campaign, which includes the General Synod of the Church of England, 93 local authorities, the Royal Society for Public Health and politicians from all parties, have called on the Government to take action on FOBTs in order to protect the most vulnerable in society.
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 chaired by Carolyn Harris MP and is supported by groups including Bacta, The Hippodrome Casino, Novomatic, Praesepe and the Royal Society for Public Health.