Fixed-odds betting terminals will have their maximum stakes limited to £2 in a crackdown on harm caused by excessive gambling, the government announced today.
Culture Secretary Matt Hancock said ministers had made a decision to "take a stand" despite dire warnings from the betting industry- which reacted to the announcement by saying 21,000 people were expected to lose their jobs as a result. "These machines are a social blight".
Despite warnings from a number of major gambling operators that such changes would lead to significant job losses across the industry, Tracey Crouch, Minister for Sport and Civil Society, said that new rules will now be put in place.
She said: "Following analysis of the evidence received at consultation, £2 has been found to be the stake limit that would most substantially impact on harm by reducing the ability to suffer high session losses, while also targeting the greatest proportion of problem gamblers, and mitigating risk for the most vulnerable players for whom even moderate losses might be harmful".
"Fixed-odds betting terminals are a scourge on high streets that have taken advantage of the vulnerable for too long", Bishop Alan said.
Research by KPMG has estimated a £2 limit would cut revenue for the Treasury by £1.1bn over three years, an annual loss of £45m to local authorities and £50m to British racing.
The government said it was created to reduce the potential for large losses and cut the risk of harm to players and the wider community.
Betfred's Mark previously said more than half of Britain's 8,500 betting shops would close, costing 21,200 jobs.
- The Gambling Commission to toughen up protections around online gambling including stronger age verification rules and proposals for customer spending limits.
William Hill said it will put 20,000 British workers in jeopardy and leave the company at risk of a foreign takeover.
Paddy Power Betfair said it expected a 33% to 43% hit to gaming machine takings, or £35m-£46m on 2017 figures - around 2% of revenue for the total group.
Changes to the stake will need to be brought through leglislation and will need to be approved by parliament.
Chief executive Peter Jackson said the announcement was a "positive development for the long-term sustainability of the industry".
Changes to the stake will be through secondary legislation and remain subject to parliamentary approval, while the government said it will also engage with the gambling industry to ensure operators are given enough time to implement and complete the technological changes.
Christopher Snowdon, the IEA's head of lifestyle economics, said the decision was the result of a "moral panic over something that accounts for just 14% of Britain's gambling expenditure". "The government is weak and cowardly to have given into it".