Bookmakers slam Labour's 'bizarre' FOBT manifesto pledge
Labour has pledged to reduce the maximum stake on gaming machines to £2, a move described as a "bizarre and unjustified attack on betting shops", by the Association of British Bookmakers.
The promise has been made in the party's draft general election manifesto, details of which emerged through leaks on Wednesday evening.
It reads: "We will reduce the maximum stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals from £100 to £2. These highly addictive machines in bookmakers across the country have become a problem for many families and communities.
"They allow players to gamble away £100 every 20 seconds, encouraging people to chase their losses. Labour will also legislate to increase the delay in between spins on these games in order to reduce the addictive nature of the games."
High street bookmakers have claimed such a major cut in gaming machine stakes would lead to the closure of thousands of betting shops with the loss of 20,000 jobs, as well as the horseracing and greyhound racing industries having their income cut by millions of pounds.
Responding to the manifesto promise, an ABB spokesman said: "This is a bizarre and unjustified attack on betting shops from the Labour Party, whose members are among the millions who enjoy their leisure time at their local bookies.
"Labour has fallen for the spin of our commercial rivals who have a vested interest in destroying Britain’s high street betting shops. There is no evidence to show cutting stakes on gaming machines will help tackle problem gambling."
There has been speculation that similar pledges may appear in other party manifestos in the run-up to the election on June 8.
Prime minister Theresa May's decision to call a snap election has meant the government's eagerly awaited review of gaming machines, which had been expected to be published this month, is unlikely to be unveiled until the autumn.