In Shop FOBTs “Worst”
These figures helped to cement the government’s decision to legislate a £2 cap on the stakes of fixed odds betting terminals (FOBT) within the finance bill. Given that the previous maximum stake was £100, this reduction shows a new awareness by the government of the dangers of this addiction.
However, while an addiction to gambling has serious consequences, it is relatively rare for occasional users and responsible players to become addicted. Figures show that in the UK only 1.4% of all gamblers become problem gamblers. When looking at fixed odds betting terminals, however, this figure increases dramatically to 11.5%.
Increase In People Getting Help
The figures released by the NHS run parallel to Gamcare’s helpline figures, a freephone number which helps people discuss their problems with betting. Over the past four years, the numbers of people asking for assistance from the helpline has increased by approximately 30%, reaching over 30,000 in 2017.
Since fixed betting terminals are taxed, several members of parliament have argued for a delay in the implementation of this cap, claiming that a delay until 2020 could raise more than £400 million in revenue. However, this does not take into account the money spent on attempting to help people with addiction problems, nor does it consider the human cost of the people negatively affected by gambling.
Other politicians have highlighted a study by the Centre for Economics and Business research, which suggests that the Treasury could actually increase revenue by £130 million due to gamblers moving from fixed odds betting terminals to other products and betting services. This increase in tax revenue would also see an increase in profits for game providers too.
Ultimately, the industry and government are committed to promoting responsible gaming and ensuring that the problems of a small minority of gamblers will not affect the enjoyment of everyone else.