Betting Shops on the high street - Copyright IO8 Photography / REX
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Bishop demands betting machine controls

Thu 10 Aug 2017
By Alex Williams

The Church of England has urged the Government not to let tax revenue concerns derail moves to restrict addictive betting machines.

The Bishop of St Albans reiterated his support for lowering the maximum stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) after Philip Hammond warned it could create a £400 million gap for the treasury.

The Rt Rev Alan Smith told the chancellor: "Clergy and congregations are providing frontline support for a great many vulnerable people who are at risk of gambling-related harm, and whose lives are often blighted by the presence of FOBTs on our high streets.

"They see daily the effects of the £1.82 bullion that was lost on these machines last year.

Lee Davy


Users can currently wager up to £100 per go on the machines but the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport - which conducted a review of the machines - is seeking a lower limit of between £5 and £2.

It has been reported the chancellor was block the move unless any consequential loss for the Government's coffers is made up elsewhere.

Bishop Alan also said: "I understand the pressure on public services and am aware that a reduction in maximum stakes would have tax revenue implications.

"However, given the levels of existing gambling-related harm, I hope that the review might be published without undue delay."

Earlier this year, the Church of England's governing body, the General Synod, called for a £2 cap on FOBTs.

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