MPs campaigning for stricter gambling limits have expressed disappointment at a decision by the Gambling Commission to reject a drastic reduction in the stakes permitted under industry rules. The commission has been accused of “betraying addicts” as it backed down on a new £2 limit.
It follows an agreement to lower the current maximum of £100 on slot stakes which has been reduced instead to a £30 limit. And it is a victory for the gambling watchdog which had strongly opposed the £2 limit in spite of widespread evidence of the extent of personal harm to regular or addicted gamblers. Critics argued that players of roulette, the most popular game, were vulnerable to high-risk losses.
Shares in betting companies rose on the back of the controversial decision, which is expected to be implemented within the next three weeks.
The move, which gives Culture Secretary of State Matt Hancock, the power to raise the limit to £30. Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson, a tireless campaigner on the effects of serial gambling, said: “This is a deeply disappointing decision from the commission which appears to have caved in to the industry. Ministers must not use this to cover for the status quo.”
The Rt Rev Alan Smith, a long-term supporter of a £2 limit, said:” This does not go far enough and it does not protect the vulnerable, their families and their communities.