Modern slot machines are as addictive as computer games and as greedy as payday lenders
The UK Treasury has cold feet about the department of culture, media and sport’s review of fixed-odds betting terminals, expected to recommend swingeing cuts to the maximum bet. The chancellor is said to be alarmed about losing a lucrative tax stream.
Absurdly, FOBTs, which seduce gamblers to play for as long as they can, are treated in legislation as if they were games of skill. That means players can bet up to £100 every 20 seconds. But there is no skill whatever involved in playing them; only in programming them to extract the most cash possible from players. Recent figures show that adds up to about £2bn a year, which is an awful lot – hundreds of thousands – of losing gamblers. It is also more than half the revenue of the high-street betting chains, and generates £400m a year in tax.