Times: Bishop of St Albans voices concern about delay in reduction of betting machine stakes

On 16th June 2018 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, was a signatory to a letter to The Times newspaper registering concern about reports of a delay to the implementation of a reduction in stakes to £2 for fixed-odds betting terminals:

BETTING STAKE DELAY

Sir, Your report (June 15) that bookmakers have struck a backroom deal with the Treasury to delay for two years the implementation of the stake reduction on highly addictive fixed-odds betting terminals from £100 a spin to £2 is deeply disturbing.

These machines, which allow gamblers to place bets of up to £100 every 20 seconds, ruin lives and in some cases lead to the loss of homes and even lives. Industry experts report that the machines can be re-programmed to change the maximum stake to £2 in only eight weeks.

This delay will mean that vulnerable people and their families are damaged while the Treasury and bookmakers benefit from an additional £4 billion in revenue.

The government should not allow the most vulnerable people in society to be exploited purely in order to protect tax revenues and bookmakers’ interests. We urge them to act as swiftly as possible, and certainly within this financial year, to reduce the maximum stake and place those vulnerable people and their families before bookmakers’ profits and tax revenues.

The Right Rev Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans; Lord Foster of Bath; Lord Clement-Jones; Lord Dholakia; Clive Scowen, member of General Synod; Martin Kettle, policy adviser, Church of England