One of the senior Liberal Democrat MPs has announced that he wants to see B2 Gaming Machines, commonly known as FOBTs, to be reduced to £2 a go. Manchester Withington MP John Leech has called on the government, of which his party is a coalition partner, to go much further with their current proposals on gaming machines and reduce the stake from a potential £100 to £2.
Leech, the Liberal Democrat Culture Spokesperson, who also serves on the influential DCMS Select committee, condemned the government ‘inaction’ on FOBTs at his party’s conference in Glasgow, this week. While the ‘inaction’ is actually introducing more machine player safeguards than ever before, with requirements for customers who want to place bets of more than £50 a spin either request permission from staff or sign up for account based play, Leech believes more should be done.
He explained: “So far we have not done enough. The measures announced in April are just not enough. There is no place for high stakes, high risk and addictive casino gambling in betting shops on the high street. All other easily accessible machines are already capped at £2 per spin because that is what is considered a safe level, so why are betting shops allowed machines that facilitate losses of £300 a minute? It is time we dealt with this once and for all and cut the stakes on FOBTs to £2.”
The policy has been announced as a point of differentiation from the Conservative Party as the Lib Dems position themselves for next year’s election. The stance also tallies with that of the founders of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, Derek Webb and Hannah O’Donnell, who have been major financial supporters of the Liberal Democrats over the past three years.