The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Rev Alan Smith has called for the Government to enact plans related to tackling gambling and possible gambling-related harm.
Recently, anti-gambling campaigners have blamed the UK Government for the delay in the reduction of the maximum stake allowed on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) from £100 to £2 and urged the authorities to implement the changes as quickly as possible. The crackdown that is set to be imposed on the maximum FOBT stake was officially announced in May 2018 but local bookmakers raised a red flag that the reduction could lead to the closure of thousands of betting shops across the country, hence thousands of jobs in the industry lost.
Now, the Anglican bishop urged the authorities to do whatever necessary to bring the changes to action as soon as possible. The Rt Rev Alan Smith previously welcomed the news for the stake cut but now said that the happiness had now turned into “puzzlement and dismay”.
According to Rt Rev Smith, the notorious fixed-odds betting terminals caused not only financial problems to the individuals affected by their addictiveness but also family breakdown, as well as health and mental problems. That is exactly why the Bishop said no time should be wasted on delays and the change should be brought quickly.
Anti-Gambling Campaigners Say 2-Year Delay Is Too Much
As previously reported by Casino Guardian, last month it became clear that the crackdown on fixed-odds betting machines could be delayed until April 2020. The UK Chancellor Philip Hammond confirmed that the long-expected measures which are to be imposed on the terminals would be officially rolled out in two years.
At the time when the announcement was made, Mr. Hammond faced fierce criticism for the delay.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) minister Lord Ashton of Hyde addressed to the anti-gambling campaigners’ calls for quick enactment of the new rules regarding the fixed-odds betting terminals, saying that the Government was moving as quickly as it could but there was still a parliamentary process to be followed. Lord Ashton revealed that the crackdown on the machines would be rolled out through what is called secondary legislation and additional draft regulations which are currently being prepared. As he explained, the Parliament is set to see the new regulatory rules filed in the autumn.
What is more, Lord Ashton shared that the UK Government was aimed at providing the local bookmakers with enough time to prepare for the implementation of the necessary technological changes that are set to be brought to the machines. In addition, the 2-year period is considered long enough for the industry to come up with a strategy efficient enough to lessen the potential impact which the FOBT crackdown could have on employment.
The machines have long been blamed for the constantly rising gambling participation and problem gambling rates in the country, with more people being put at risk of becoming gambling addicts every year. The concerns with the anti-gambling campaigners who insist that the new rules on FOBTs’ stakes should be implemented as soon as possible have been associated with the period given to local bookmakers to prepare for the changes. According to them, the implementation of the required technological changes could take a few months to be finalised but a 2-year period which was negotiated between HM Treasury and the bookmakers would provide the latter with the chance to generate a further £4 billion.