On 30th of October Lord Griffiths of Burry Port asked the Government whether they will introduce legislation to reduce the maximum bet for fixed-odds betting machines to £2; and if so, when. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: Many of us who have been speaking and campaigning on this issue were appalled yesterday to hear about the further time that it will take to implement this. These machines are predominantly found in the poorest areas. The research is quite clear: they cause huge poverty. On top of that, it is estimated that every day between one and two people commit suicide for gambling-related reasons. That is not only a huge social cost; it is a massive financial cost, far more than the £400 million relevant tax revenue that Her Majesty’s Government receive each year. Surely it is time to do this for the sake of everyone in our country.
Viscount Younger of Leckie: I note what the right reverend Prelate says, but coming to this decision was a result of much cross-departmental work and liaison with the industry. Now is the time for clarity, which we have given, and we need to go ahead. We expect the companies to implement this by the date that we have given.