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Gloucestershire Business News

MP calls for changes in fixed odds betting rules

Gloucester MP Richard Graham is urging residents to support a reduction in the amount that can be bet on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) before the current Government consultation on gambling expires.

He says the current maximum bet of £100 is too high and puts vulnerable people at risk.

"This is an entirely non-party political campaign," said the MP, adding that the maximum £100 bet is too high for people who cannot afford to lose a lot of money, damaging family trust, relationships and stability.

Mr Graham said that the gambling industry will argue that gambling brings in valuable tax revenue, and that individual choice means no-one has to gamble in order to protect the status quo.

But the MP said: "In reality vulnerable people don't always make good decisions, and the cost in human and financial terms to individuals, families and taxpayers is huge. These FOBTs, which allow gamblers to bet £100 every 20 seconds, are in mostly the poorest areas and add nothing to the community at all.

"Generating tax from exploiting human weakness is not a good justification for their existence - and I urge Gloucester to make a statement about what sort of city we want to be. If we can reduce the stake to £2 that will reduce the chances of people losing money they can't afford - the average user loses £1,200 a year - and if that reduces the number of gambling shops here then so be it."

The case of local taxi driver Hussain Vorajee, who has lost huge sums of money and seen his family life devastated, has influenced Richard's position. He said: "When people lose heavily they then turn to loan sharks and their financial situation spirals down. This is our chance to help get things changed."

Hussain Vorajee said, "Gambling addictions can ruin lives, as I know, and these machines should be better regulated."

Anyone who wants to see the stake reduced to £2 (the lowest of three options offered) should reply to the consultation by 23 January via  www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/3XGGFP7 

What do you think? Email mark@moosemarketingandpr.co.uk 

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