The Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, is seeking to mobilise Christians to press the Government to curb Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) to help protect the most vulnerable people. He is urging us to add our voices to calls to limit the maximum stake on the addictive machines to £2, instead of the current level of £100.
He is calling for people to respond to the Government’s consultation on its review of gaming machines which is only open for the next two months (closing at noon on 23 January 2018). As a first step, he has written to all members of the Church of England’s General Synod, encouraging them to respond to the consultation. The Church of England has also produced a resource to help members of the public have their say in the consultation.
In February 2017, General Synod voted unanimously to support a £2 maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) and powers for local authorities to control the numbers of these machines on high streets.
In the letter, Bishop Alan notes that although excellent progress has been made in shaping the proposals that the Government has brought, now is a critical time for those concerned about the impact of current gambling regulations to show their support for change. The Bishop writes that this strong show of support has been crucial to the great progress made so far.
He said: “The presence of FOBTs on high streets and damage they do to individuals, families and communities should concern us all. I hope everyone takes the time to make their voices heard in this consultation. Large corporate interests will do everything they can to influence the Government’s decision on the maximum stake for FOBTs, so is essential that ordinary people share their local experience of these machines.”
Bishop Alan continues by saying he has taken a look at this and would like to urge those in our local Christian community to respond to the government consultation and perhaps consider writing to their MPs to try and persuade the government not to increase the risks of gambling to those who can least afford to lose money.
(Details of the Consultation, as well as the motion passed by General Synod, can be downloaded from the Information Section of this website.)