I welcome the Government’s u-turn on reducing the maximum stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), as a first step in changing attitudes to gambling.
I was extremely critical of the Chancellor’s decision to push back the introduction of the £2 maximum stake for FOBTs from April 2019 to October 2019 in the Budget and I warned that without further action, lives will be lost to gambling addiction.
The Government has reinstated the April date for the maximum stake to be reduced from £100 to £2 in the face of growing pressure from a growing number of MPs who threatened to vote down the planned delay in the budget bill.
But more action must follow.
Yesterday, I hosted the launch of the Gambling with Lives charity, which was set up by families and friends of young men who have taken their own lives as a direct result of gambling disorder, including my constituent, Jack Ritchie, who tragically took his own life at the age of just 24. His parents are right – gambling is being normalised and it’s got to stop.
This Government u-turn is welcome. They should never have risked more lives being lost by delaying the maximum stake reduction. But unless it is the first step in a package of wider reform, more young men will die.
From re-thinking advertising laws to considering gambling as a public health issue, we need to get serious about stopping the damage caused by gambling, in the same way we did with smoking a generation ago.
You can learn more about Gambling with Lives on its website .