Carolyn Harris: We’ll fight to pull the plug on Fixed Odds Betting terminals for good

Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. Four words that I have probably said more than any others in the last three years.

Four words that sound quite innocent.

But four words that have caused devastation to those cursed with an addiction to playing these machines. And to their families.

When I first started campaigning for a reduction in the stakes on FOBTs, I was a newly elected Member of Parliament.

Taking the lead on this genuinely cross-party campaign, I was possibly out of my depth and probably naive.

I was passionate and determined enough to speak up for people who were battling against the hold these electronic demons had over their lives Image: Images

But I was passionate and ­determined enough to speak up for people who were battling against the hold these electronic demons had over their lives.

Getting the stake reduced seemed almost impossible in those early days but as the months passed I began to realise I could make a difference.

I was no longer the new, ­inexperienced MP. I was someone who people were listening to, someone quite capable of taking on the bookmakers and winning.

I was therefore delighted on May 17 when the Government announced a stake reduction for fixed odds betting terminals from £100 to £2 per spin.

This welcome, and long overdue, change will see potential losses for individual gamblers plummet from £18,000 an hour to only £360.

I was delighted on May 17 when the Government announced a stake reduction for fixed odds betting terminals from £100 to £2 per spin Image: REUTERS

This will be life-changing, agen piala dunia possibly even life-saving, for many gambling ­addicts up and down the country. To have worked with ­colleagues from across the House to achieve this historic milestone makes me very proud.

To have achieved something that will so reduce the causes of problem ­gambling and the related harm makes me even ­prouder.

Since the Government first ­announced its consultation on stakes back in October 2016, £3billion has been lost on fixed-odds betting ­terminals – often by those who can least afford it.

Last year alone, 230,000 ­people lost more than £1,000 on one of these toxic machines. For many the losses were much ­higher. This needs to stop – and it needs to stop quickly.

Every day that passes is another day that threatens vulnerable addicts.

Last year alone, 230,000 people lost more than £1,000 on one of these toxic machines

The bookmakers’ argument that they need time to make technical ­adjustments to the machines is ­nonsense. This can happen quickly.

Government ministers are saying they can reduce the stake only once they ­increase the duty on online ­gambling and that this could take up to two years. While I agree that online operators should be taxed more, this timescale is totally unacceptable.

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