Chancellor denies blocking fixed-odds betting terminals’ review

George Osborne had to deny blocking a review into “crack cocaine” betting machines because of the tax revenue they generate.

UK.- Chancellor George Osborne denied blocking a review into fixed-odds betting terminals, also known as “crack cocaine” betting machines because of the tax revenue they generate. The £100-a-spin casino machines raised as much as £425million (US$620.6 million) for the Treasury in 2015, but have been linked to violence, addiction and antisocial behaviour. At the moment, Osborne faces growing opposition from more than two-thirds of MPs due to his failure to act against fixed-odds betting terminals.

A Government spokesman affirmed: “We will continue to monitor the effectiveness of existing gambling controls and will take further action if necessary. It is categorically not true to suggest that the chancellor has blocked any review.”

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is supposed to conduct a review every three years, but the last was opened in January 2010 and the Government has yet to announce when the next will be.

“The review is well overdue and action against these machines is well overdue,” said Peter Bottomley, the Tory MP said. “The Treasury has to decide, is it going to take money or action?”

Pressure increased when the father of Joshua Jones, 23, who last year jumped to his death because of his gambling addiction, called on bookmakers to do more. He said: “How many more deaths are needed before gambling addiction is taken seriously?”

Recently a ComRes poll of MPs found eight out of 10 believe FOBTs are harming vulnerable people. The largest cross party survey carried out on the issue revealed that more than two thirds (67 percent) believe the £100 stake is too high and it also found that 72 percent of MPs agree that there should be greater regulation of FOBTs by Government.