Nick Smith MP has called on the Government to not water down their commitment to tackle the “crack cocaine” of betting machines.

People in Blaenau Gwent lost nearly £1.5m in Fixed Odds Betting Terminals last year at up to £100 at a time.

With nearly £10m lost to FOBTs between 2008 and 2016 in the borough, it prompted Mr Smith to join Labour colleagues in condemning the machines.

Now the Government has admitted they need to cut the maximum stake allowed per bet to “reduce the potential for large session losses and therefore to the potentially harmful impact on the player and their wider communities”.

A 12 week consultation will also consider whether the time between bets must be lengthened -; it currently sits at 20 seconds.

However, the Government’s review into the sector did not go so far as to commit to reducing the stake to £2 as called for campaigners.

Instead, it is considering a minimum stake that could still be as high as £50 a time.

Speaking after the announcement, Mr Smith said the Government must follow through now they have committed to a stake reduction.

“A report from the Gambling Commission earlier this year found 43% of people who use FOBTs are problem or at-risk gamblers”, he said.

“We can’t allow arguments of ‘people can do what they like with their money’ to creep in at this crucial juncture.

“That’s the danger of a gambling addiction -; it means people bet more than they want and more than they can afford.

“The £2 stake would be a strong move to protect gamblers and families. The Government must not put their head in the sand and pretend a £50 stake would do the job.”

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