The UK Government are finally moving in the right direction on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), but today’s announcement is a missed opportunity to take necessary action to drastically reduce the maximum stake of gaming machines now.
The government’s dithering raises questions about their willingness to deal with gambling harm. It is clear full devolution of gambling policy needs to happen now for Scotland to tackle problem gambling more effectively.
Fixed-odds betting terminals aren’t just destroying individuals lives, but their families and communities too. In my constituency of Inverclyde, cash inserted in FOBTs was over £11.5m in 2016, with losses amounting to nearly £3m. This cannot continue.
The Government have a duty to support those affected by gambling related harm and ensure more funding is made available to GambleAware and the National Problem Gambling Clinic, to support individuals and families whose lives have been affected by gambling related harm and these machines.
I also call on the gambling industry to do more to recognise the rise in problem gambling and ensure they start to contribute significant funds to address gambling related harm. The industry are part of the problem but also part of the solution.