Campaign group 38 Degrees recently asked its members to contact their MPs to raise their concerns about Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) in betting shops. I agree that these machines can ruin lives and that action is overdue. I have long been concerned by the large number of betting shops in the constituency, particularly on and around Deptford High Street.
Evidence suggests that FOBTs are highly addictive and that their high-speed nature makes them particularly addictive to problem gamblers. Disappointingly, in July 2015 the Government rejected proposals from over 90 local councils to reduce the maximum stake on FOBTs from £100 to £2.
The FOBTs All-Party Parliamentary Group has recently called for the maximum stake to be cut from £100 to £2 as a precautionary measure until sufficient evidence is presented that the high stakes on these machines do not cause harm. I agree and believe the Government should act on this.
I welcome the fact that the Government is currently carrying out a review of Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures and hope this signifies that ministers have woken up to the fact that not enough has been done to curtail the proliferation of FOBTs.
As requested by constituents, I have written to Tracey Crouch MP (Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Sport, Tourism and Heritage) to pass on their concerns.