Betting crackdown would stop gamblers losing their ‘whole rent in one go’, says campaigner

 Betting crackdown would stop gamblers losing their ‘whole rent in one go’, says campaigner

Friday, November 2, 2018

Fairer Gambling Campaigner Matt Zarb-Cousin has said that the proposal to reduce the amount people are able to stake on fixed-odds betting machines stops them losing their “whole rent in one session”.

Sports minister Trace Crouch resigned on Thursday after delays to the policy meant the crackdown would not be implemented until October next year.

Mr Zarb-Cousin, who lost £20,000 on the machines, told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer: “When the Government did the review they found that the more you stake the more likely you are to be a problem gambler or be experiencing harm.

“That is why they said it has got to be capped at £2. People will still be able to gamble on the machines if they want to but they are not then going to be able to lose their whole rent in one session.”


'It is a sad loss' 

The crackdown on FOBTs was expected to start in April next year, but it was announced during Philip Hammond’s budget on Monday that it would now happening in October 2019 instead.

Mr Zarb-Cousin spoke about his frustration with the delay and Ms Crouch’s resignation, saying her resignation was “a sad loss”.

“I have been campaigning on this for about five years and all we really wanted was a minister who understood there might be a problem and was willing to listen to the evidence of what the solution might be,” he said.

“Tracey was that minister. In that job, you really want someone who is down-to-earth, who has been in betting shops and understands gambling.

“She was all those things and this process started in October 2016 and the review went for 19 months.

“We have been six months on from when the Government decided that £2 would be the most reasonable level and now we have been told it is another year until it is implemented.

“I can understand Tracey’s frustration but it is a real sad loss to the Government.”


'There is no door control' 

Mr Zarb-Cousin described the FOBTs as “a really addictive product”, partly because of their accessibility and speed.

“It is the ability to stake anywhere from £1 to £100 on addictive games like Roulette, which are played three spins a minute so every 20 seconds,” he said.  

“The combination of factors makes it a really addictive product.

“They are very accessible because they are in high street betting shops.

“There is no door control, and there is no real monitoring as they come and go.

“I got addicted to them really quickly.”