South Holland and the Deepings MP John Hayes has asked Prime Minister Theresa May to reduce the top stake for fixed odds betting terminals, claiming that the “devastation, debt and despair” caused by the machines is widespread.
The Conservative former Transport Minister also asked the PM to crack down on online gambling sites targeting young children.
Hayes’ intervention comes after the government’s evidence-gathering consultation on what level stakes on the controversial machines should be ended on January 23.
Reports have indicated that new Culture Secretary Matthew Hancock is in favour of the maximum stake being slashed to £2, something which has not gone down well with bookmakers, who have dismissed it as “rumour”.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, January 24, John Hayes said: “The prime minister will know of the devastation, debt and despair caused by fixed odds betting terminals, which are now widespread — a far cry from the charm of the bingo hall, the pools coupon or the style of the sport of kings.
“Given the fact that there is a review, will she meet me and others to discuss how the maximum bet on those terminals can be reduced, and will she take the chance simultaneously to plan a crackdown on online gambling sites that target young children?
“The stakes are too high to gamble with our children’s futures.”
In response, Theresa May told her Conservative colleague: “We are clear that the fixed odds betting terminals stakes will be cut to make sure that we have a safe and sustainable industry where vulnerable people and children are protected.
“As I suspect my right hon. Friend knows, the consultation that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport launched on this closed yesterday, so a final decision will be made in due course.
“He will know, with regard to the specific point about children — this is important—that there are in place controls to prevent children and young people from accessing online gambling.
“The Gambling Commission has asked the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board to examine the wider relationship between children and gambling.
“I think it is important, as we take these decisions, that we all recognise the potential threats and dangers, but that we ensure that we have the best information possible in order to be able to act.”