The government has today set out plans to stimulate the gaming machine market as part of a package of changes to stake and prize limits for gaming machines.
Today’s announcement comes as part of the government’s response to a 3 month consultation, that invited views from the gambling industry, charities and faith and community groups on the value of stakes and prizes on a range of gaming machines.
The consultation ran earlier this year and looked at gaming machines classified as category B, C and D and found in places like, betting shops, sea side arcades, pubs and casinos. It also included a call for evidence in relation to B2 machines (sometimes referred to as fixed odds betting terminals FOBTs) and concerns about their link to problem gambling.
The proposals follow advice from the Gambling Commission and the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board which makes clear there is scope to increase stake and prize limits for some categories of gaming machines provided the industry makes progress in strengthening player protection.
The proposed changes are underpinned by commitments from the gambling industry to bring in greater player protection measures set out in new voluntary codes, including voluntary monetary and time limits for players, improved voluntary self-exclusion mechanisms and enhanced player warnings.
After considering the formal advice from the Gambling Commission and a wide range of views in the consultation, it has been decided not to proceed with a precautionary reduction in stakes or prizes on FOBTs at this stage. However, the government shares an expectation with the Gambling Commission that there needs to be more work done to explore the potential harm of these machines and has told the industry they must share their data on machine use to inform new research on their impact. The government expects rapid progress from the industry in this area.
Additionally, the government has asked the industry to monitor the effectiveness of new player protection measures that will that will start imminently and provide greater safeguards for players.
Minister for Sport & Equalities, Helen Grant said:
The government is pleased to introduce a package that supports the gambling sector but is very clear that growth cannot be pursued at any cost. Our response acknowledges gambling’s contribution to the economy but balances this with explicit recognition of the need to protect players, particularly at the higher end stakes.
The government intend to lay the regulations in Parliament before the end of the year with the objective of implementing new stake and prize limits in early 2014, subject to Parliamentary approval.
During the consultation process over 9,500 responses were received from a wide range of interested parties. The majority of these were made up of identical responses from employees or customers of bookmakers and 66 were unique responses received with representations from trade associations, businesses, faith and community groups, academics and think tanks, local authorities, charities, sports bodies and members of the public.