Most churches welcome decision to cap betting stakes on armed bandits
Punters in betting shops who were formerly allowed to bet up to £100 a spin on gambling machines.
The Church of Scotland has joined other churches across the UK to welcome the Government’s decision to cap bets on fixed odds betting terminals, saying unlimited betting can “destroy lives.”
The Catholic Church in Scotland however has remained silent on the issue which will impact on punters across West Dunbartonshire and Helensburgh.
Or it did until The Democrat asked them about it. Then a spokesman for the Catholic Church said: “Games of chance, betting or lotteries are not in themselves inherently problematic or prohibited, rather, they become unacceptable when they are exploitative in nature, depriving participants of their basic needs and human dignity.”
Rev Dr Richard Frazer, convener of the Kirk’s Church and Society Council said: “We welcome the UK Government’s decision today to reduce the stakes of Fixed Odds Betting terminals from a maximum of £100 to £2.
“Unfettered Fixed Odds Betting terminals have the very real capacity to destroy lives. This significant stake reduction is not only necessary, but will make a huge difference to the lives of many families within communities across Scotland.
“For those struggling with gambling addiction this does not provide all the answers, there is more to be done, but it is a step in the right direction.”
Today a group of Churches and faith-based organisations have issued a welcome to the Government’s response to the review of fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
In a statement, The Salvation Army, The Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church, The Church of Scotland, The Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Evangelical Alliance UK, Quaker Action on Alcohol and Drugs, CARE, The Mission and Public Affairs Council of the Church of England said: “FOBTs are a serious problem in society and for local communities, families and individuals. Evidence links them to patterns of addictive behaviour, large financial losses and anti-social and criminal behaviour. Today we warmly welcome the Government’s commitment to cap maximum stakes on FOBTs at £2. In welcoming this proposed action we want to make it clear that in addition to the major challenge presented by FOBTs, there are also wider issues associated with gambling that require serious political commitment to address. Therefore, we note that at this stage new powers to oversee gambling are not been given to Local Authorities. We ask the Government to revisit this.””
It added: “We also note that the Government states that ‘Gambling-related harm is a health issue’, we welcome this but will press for more clarity on this important issue.”
It now seems certain that the Government will go further and bring in new legislation to stop gambling on-line.
It is there too that punters are racking up huge amounts of debt. Statistics show that approximately 76 per cent of men and 68 per cent of women gamble each year. About 75 per cent of teenagers gamble. More than 300,000 people in Britain are thought to be addicts. In 2004 National Lottery sales rose by more than £150 million to £4.77 billion. In 2002-03, casinos took £3.8 billion in bets. 56.8 per cent of this was on roulette. £1.2 billion was staked on bingo. The highest gambling activity is on horse racing.
The number of young men regularly betting is now 90 per cent, an increase attributed to the online gambling industry. £5 billion a year is wagered online, with 93 per cent of people with internet access gambling on the web. The average gambler spends between £10 and £20 a week on gaming sites. £1 billion is gambled online on football, £935 million on internet casinos, £665 million on horse racing and £43 million on poker sites. Scots are believed to be the biggest gamblers, with 48 per cent gambling an average of £40 per month. £28 million was fed into fruit machines each day in Britain in 2001-02.
These are figures obtained in 2006 and the number of gamblers and amounts of money lost now exceed them many times.