Emma opposes ‘half-hearted’ Government action on high-stakes betting

March 16, 2015

Houses of ParliamentEmma has joined Labour MPs including Ed Miliband in opposing the Government’s weak action on high-stakes gambling.

The Government has introduced new regulations on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), sometimes referred to as the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’ because of their addictive potential and their ability to ruin lives. However, Emma is concerned that the Government’s rules do not go far enough, as they would still allow players to gamble as much as £100 per stake.

Emma has backed a motion opposing the regulations and urging the Government to withdraw them.

Labour has called for stricter control of FOBTs, including giving councils the power to ban them entirely. Labour would also reduce the speed of FOBT machines, introduce pop-up warnings for players and prevent players from gambling more than a certain amount without permission from staff.

Emma has previously called for stronger regulation of FOBTs in Parliament, and has called for better protection for betting shop staff who are often exposed to violence. Emma backs Labour’s plan to stop single staffing in betting shops.

A 2014 study estimated that more than £2.8 million may have been lost on FOBT machines in South Shields alone. Nationwide the figure was believed to be closer to £1.5 billion. The machines are strongly linked to problem gambling, crime and anti-social behaviour.

Emma said:

“The Government’s response on high-stakes gambling is too little, too late. At the moment we have a situation where gambling machines allow players to gamble away hundreds of pounds in a matter of minutes. That can ruin lives, and the Government’s approach won’t do anything to change the situation.

“That’s why I oppose the Government’s half-hearted response and why I want to see strong action that makes it harder for people to gamble excessively, protects staff and gives local communities the powers they need to deal with the problems associated with gambling.”

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