10 October 2013
Government raise the stakes on gambling machines
The Evangelical Alliance has criticised the government for continually increasing prizes and stakes for gambling machines to secure the profit margins of big business.
The latest government response pushes up the prizes or stakes for many categories of gambling machine in response to requests from industry groups that such changes were necessary for their economic survival.
In response to the planned increases the Alliance questioned whether the government’s priorities put the profits of the gambling industry ahead of protection of the poorest.
The Triennial Review of Gaming Machine Stake and Prize Limits was also seen by faith groups as a missed opportunity to tackle the scourge of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals in betting shops across the country. The high stakes mean vast amounts can be lost quickly and the power of local authorities to control the spread of betting shops is very limited.
The government did, however, limit the changes to gambling machines which can be played by children in recognition of the concern expressed that they can provide a pathway into other forms of gambling. The UK remains the only Western country to permit children to gamble on fruit machines.
In response to the review, Danny Webster of the Evangelical Alliance said: “The government have gone ahead and done the gambling industry’s bidding once again. The only sure-fire bet in this business is that profit will take priority over protecting the poorest.
“This was a chance to coordinate regulation in a way that put player protection at the heart of gambling policy; instead it is a missed opportunity. Previous changes on the back of pleas for economic help did not deliver the hoped-for return so the gambling industry went back and asked for more.
“While there is an urgent need for more research and evidence to support regulation of machines in betting shops it is not clear what level of proof the government need before they will act. Research will never answer all the questions, and the government might be hiding behind this to avoid tackling the machines that prop up betting shops’ balance sheets.”
The Evangelical Alliance submitted a response to the consultation and will continue to work with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Gambling Commission on gambling regulation and seeks a safe and responsible regime where the protection of children and vulnerable people is prioritised.
Danny Webster - firstname.lastname@example.org
020 7520 3862 / 07766 444650
Notes to Editors
The government response to the Triennieal Review of Gaming Machine Stake and Prize Limits is available online.
The Evangelical Alliance
We are the largest and oldest body representing the UK’s two million evangelical Christians. For more than 165 years, we have been bringing Christians together and helping them listen to, and be heard by, the government, media and society. We’re here to connect people for a shared mission, whether it’s celebrating the Bible, making a difference in our communities or lobbying the government for a better society. From Skye to Southampton, from Coleraine to Cardiff, we work across 79 denominations, 3,500 churches, 750 organisations and thousands of individual members. And we're not just uniting Christians within the UK – we are a founding member of the World Evangelical Alliance, a global network of more than 600 million evangelical Christians. For more information, go to www.eauk.org