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Sunday, 09 December, 2018

Betting shop staff and MPs call on government to reject £2 FOBT stake

MPs Laurence Robertson and Philip Davies joined betting shop staff in Westminster
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Betting shop staff were joined by MPs in Westminster on Wednesday to demonstrate against the possibility of the maximum FOBT stakes being cut to £2 from £100.

Holding placards, staff from Ladbrokes Coral, William Hill and a number of independent firms took part along with Conservative MPs Laurence Robertson and Philip Davies and Labour MP Chris Evans.

The demonstration was staged against the backdrop of the government's gambling review, the results of which are expected to be published in the next few weeks, including a final verdict on what level FOBT stakes should be set at.

The government's consultation set out a range of options from a £2 maximum – which campaigners against the controversial machines have called for – to £50.

The majority of the retail betting industry claim that should the government decide on a £2 stake it would amount to a de facto ban on the machines, leading to half of all betting shops closing with 21,000 job losses, as well as millions of pounds of lost tax revenue and income for racing.

Jenningsbet staff, with Vicky Knight third left, join the demonstration at Westminster

Vicky Knight, who works for Jenningsbet, said: "We're talking about a 98 per cent reduction in the stakes, but we have lots of adults who want to stake £20 or £30 and that is an appropriate level in a highly regulated environment like a betting shop."

Her colleague Ron Hearn, the reigning Betting Shop Manager of the Year, added: "I've been a racing fan all my life. Betting and racing go hand-in-hand. It's not just betting shops at risk, it’s racing too."

Robertson said: "It was good to have such a turnout at Westminster. However, it was also sad, because those there, and many who couldn't be, know their jobs will be at risk if the government cuts FOBT stakes to a maximum of £2."

Newspaper reports this week have claimed a £2 maximum stake is looking likely, claiming chancellor Philip Hammond has dropped objections to the plan.

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The government are being reckless by ignoring the independent evidence which recommended a £30 stake
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