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UK Government announces change to maximum stake on pokies

Wed, Nov 1, 3:35pm by Head Editor

The United Kingdom’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) minister Tracey Crouch announced on Tuesday (AEDT) that the British government would be cutting the maximum bet on betting terminals – or pokies as they are called on our shores – from £100 ($173) to between £2 ($3.46) and £50 ($86.59).

The maximum stake as it stands is £300 ($519) a minute, which means that a player can lose up to £18,000 ($31,173) an hour on the electronic casino games.

The games are highly addictive and according to a recent study, the amount of machines have surged in low income areas since the gambling laws were relaxed in 2007.

The government’s gambling review began 10 months ago and was completed by charity group GambleAware.

It revealed that the social group most likely to bet the full £100 ($173) into the machines was the unemployed and that more than 233,000 bettors lost more than £1,000 ($1,731) last year.

There were also 650 people who lost more than £5,000 ($8,659) and one person lost £13,778 ($23,861).

Bookmakers have warned that shops will be forced to close if maximum stakes are cut to £2 ($3.46) and they are expected to lobby for the £50 ($86.59) option to be implemented during a 12-week consultation period, which ends in January.

In addition to cutting the maximum bet amount, the government have also asked betting operators to put aside £5 million ($8.6 million) to £7 million ($12.1 million) per year for an awareness-raising campaign.

Educational material will be promoted by the Gambling Commission regulator and time limits may even be introduced to help curb what is being called a ‘hidden epidemic’.

The review also outlined how important it is that staff at doctors’ surgeries and charity support services be trained to recognise the signs of problem gambling. Persons under the age of 18 will no longer be able to access gambling content through social media.

Despite pressure from campaign groups to limit their spread, the review stopped short of recommending that the volume of gambling ads on TV be reduced.

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