Bishop of St Albans letter in Financial Times – Reduce £100 betting machine stake without further delay

The following letter appeared in the Financial Times on 24th October 2018:

We refer to your report “ Hammond plan to lift offshore gaming tax deals tough hand for casino groups” (October 22) and write to you as members of the House of Lords from the Christian Churches and other established religious traditions, to urge the government to implement the reduction of the £100 stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) without delay.

We welcomed the announcement on May 17 that the UK government will reduce the stake on FOBTs from £100 to £2, as we believe it will have the greatest effect to protect those from gambling-related harm and will make a real difference for the individuals and families directly affected; however we are concerned that this should be implemented as soon as possible.

Churches and other faith communities are often in the front line in dealing with the real and very damaging effects of these impacts: families are impoverished; addicts face bankruptcy, lose their jobs and suffer mental and physical health problems; town centres feel more threatening; and there have been tragic reports of suicides related to these machines.

Since the government first began consulting on this issue, more than £3.5bn has been lost, often by the most vulnerable in our society. We have written this week to the chancellor of the exchequer, the culture secretary and the prime minister urging that the government confirm that the stake will be reduced at the earliest possible time.

The Rt Revd Alan Smith
Lord Bishop of St Albans (Church of England)

Baroness Richardson of Calow
(Methodist)

Lord Dholakia
(Hindu)

Lord Singh of Wimbledon
(Sikh)