Gambling shares rise after commission calls for 30 pounds limit on machines

FILE PHOTO: British Pound coins are seen in this picture illustration taken January 18, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

(Reuters) - Share prices in British betting shops rose on Monday after the Gambling Commission recommended setting the maximum stake for fixed odds betting terminals at 30 pounds, a higher cap than campaigners had sought.

The commission also recommended that the stake on gambling machines offering slots games, like traditional fruit machines, should be limited to two pounds.

The government said in October it would reduce the maximum stake on in-shop fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) to between 2 and 50 pounds from 100 to help tackle problem gambling after a consultation in January.

The Sunday Times newspaper cited an ally of Culture Secretary Matt Hancock then as saying the limit would be set at the bottom of that range.

It is up to the government whether to implement the commission's recommendations.

An FOBT is a touch-screen machine that allows players to bet on the outcome of various games such as roulette. The machines are dubbed the "crack cocaine" of gambling by campaigners who argue that they let players lose money too quickly, leading to addiction and wider social problems.

Campaigners against the machines - including politicians from all parties, city mayors, professors and senior clerics - sent a letter in January to Prime Minister Theresa May to urge the government to cut the stake to 2 pounds.

The machines are an important source of income for high street bookmakers. Shares in prominent bookmakers William Hill <WMH.L> and Ladbrokes Coral <LCL.L>, which have the biggest presence on the high street, were up 3 percent each.


(Reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Graff)

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