The UK government has agreed to consider handing over the power to ban Fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) to Wales. FOBTs (also known as B2 machines) are the touch screen electronic gaming machines that can be found in betting shops across all the United Kingdom.
Wales Office Minister Lord Bourne said this decision was taken after protests in the House of Lords.
At the moment gambling authority is reserved to Westminster. However, this might change soon as responsibility for FOBTs is already being devolved to Scotland. Labour peer Baroness Morgan tabled an amendment to the Wales Bill seeking the power to manage their FOBTs locally.
“Many, often vulnerable, people are attracted by the prospect of high payouts of up to £500,” Baroness Morgan commented.
“Evidence suggests that these machines are highly addictive, causing real and lasting damage to gamblers.
“They have become a huge problem in communities that are often struggling to cope with under-investment and high unemployment, exacerbating the problem of gambling more than any other former of betting.”
FOBTs have come under heavy criticism in the UK recently. Last month, Carolyn Harris, Swansea East MP, told the BBC that the FOBTs were capable of eating ‘£100 every 20 seconds and £300 per minute.’
“The machine doesn’t give the punter, as they like to call them, the opportunity to stop and think about what they’re doing. It’s so rapid, it’s literally pressing a button,” explained Carolyn Harris.
Further, campaigners are now lobbying for the maximum stake to be reduced from £100 to £2 per go. Lord Bourne assured that he would look at the FOBT issue and reflect on it shortly.