I appreciate your concerns about the impact of the changes; fixed odds betting terminals are important to the economic viability of many betting shops, but I do not believe that we as parliamentarians can ignore the evidence that has been presented to us on the potential impact these types of gaming machines can have on individuals and wider communities. Reducing the maximum stakes on FOBTs from £100 to £2 will help stop extreme losses by those who can least afford it.
There has been a shift in attitudes within the industry, with more focus on social responsibility. However, I agree with the Government that self-regulation has not had a significant impact in tackling problem gambling. There are still large numbers of higher-staking machines in accessible locations, often in more deprived areas, where it is possible to lose a large amount of money very quickly.
Following the analysis of all the evidence received during the review, the Government concluded that a £2 stake limit would most substantially impact on harm. Ministers are committed to working with the industry on the impact of these changes and are confident that this innovative sector will be able to adapt and achieve the right balance between enabling people to bet responsibly and ensuring consumers and communities are protected.
Of course, there are other factors which contribute to problem gambling, which is why the Government is not making this change in isolation. Other actions include increasing player protections around online gambling and enhancing protections around gambling advertising. I hope these measures will help maintain a healthy gambling industry that contributes to the economy, but one that also does all it can to protect players.