Following an announcement by Tracey Crouch, Minister for Sport and Civil Society, that the Government is to cut Fixed Odds Betting Terminals maximum stake from £100 to £2, the Church of England has issued the following Press Release. Along with other churches and faith groups, the CofE has strongly urged Government to take a firm line on fixed odds betting terminals reform and Bishop Alan Smith has raised the issue on several occasions in the House of Lords. .
Fixed Odds Betting Terminals: £2 maximum stake is ‘right decision’, says bishop
The Bishop of St Albans, Alan Smith, has welcomed Government plans to limit the maximum stake on Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) to £2. Dr Alan Smith said the decision was an “essential” step in curbing the harm done by the machines, which he said have “taken advantage of the vulnerable for too long”.
He thanked ministers for their action, announced today as part of a package of measures in response to a Government consultation. Bishop Alan had previously written to all members of the Church of England’s General Synod, encouraging them to respond to the consultation with evidence of the consequences of these machines for their communities.
In February 2017, General Synod voted unanimously to support a £2 maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals, and powers for local authorities to control the numbers of these machines on high streets. Bishop Alan said: “Fixed-odds betting terminals are a scourge on high streets that have taken advantage of the vulnerable for too long.
“I am very glad the Government agrees that a £2 stake is an essential part of the solution. Of course, there is more work to be done, but the Government has made the right decision. I would like to thank the Prime Minister and her Government, particularly Minister Tracey Crouch MP and Secretary of State Matt Hancock MP for their admirable moral leadership.”
Notes to Editors
Details of the Synod’s 2017 motion can be found here;
The Government announcement here.
The Government decision follows a public consultation and strong resistance from the industry and assessment of the impacts by the Treasury; a Gambling Commission report which recommended a limit of £30 or less for casino-type games. The BBC reports that research by KPMG estimated a £2 limit would cut revenue for the Treasury by £1.1bn over three years, an annual loss of £45M to local authorities and £50M to British racing.
The change to the £2 maximum is subject to parliamentary approval and a vote likely to take place in 2019; although this will reduce the tax revenue from these machines there is likely to be an increase from the duty applied to online gambling. The Minister’s statement also commented:
“In order to cover any negative impact on the public finances, and to protect funding for vital public services, this change will be linked to an increase in Remote Gaming Duty, paid by online gaming operators, at the relevant Budget. [Remote Gaming Duty is paid by all companies who earn revenue through offering online gaming to British residents. It is currently set at 15% of operator’s profits].
Changes to the stake will be through secondary legislation. The move will need parliamentary approval and we will also engage with the gambling industry to ensure it is given sufficient time to implement and complete the technological changes”.
“Gambling is devolved in Northern Ireland, but substantially reserved in Scotland and Wales. However, as of 23 May 2016, the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Ministers have the executive and legislative competence to vary the number of high-staking gaming machines authorised by a new betting premises licence in Scotland. Under the Wales Act 2017, identical powers were transferred to the Welsh Ministers and the National Assembly for Wales”.