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Britain slashes top stake on gambling machines to 2 pounds

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(Reuters) – Britain will cut the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals to two pounds from the current 100 pounds($136) in a bid to curb problem gambling.

FILE PHOTO: A man gambles on a fixed odds betting terminal inside a Bookmakers in Manchester, Britain, October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Phil Noble

The decision follows complaints that the machines were highly addictive and had led to gamblers building up big losses. The terminals are a major source of income for high-street bookmakers which had argued that a cut to the lowest possible option would threaten thousands of jobs.

A fixed odds betting terminal (FOBT) is a touch screen machine that allows players to bet on the outcome of various games such as roulette.

“These machines are a social blight and prey on some of the most vulnerable in society, and we are determined to put a stop to it and build a fairer society for all,” Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for the Department of Sport, said in a statement.

The government said on Thursday it had sought to ensure the gambling industry could grow and contribute to the economy while also remaining socially responsible.

The machines have been a key source of revenue for high-street bookmakers at a time when many younger gamblers have switched to betting on sports events using their smartphones or tablets.

Critics have said the machines are especially dangerous as they allow gamblers to rack up very heavy losses in a matter of minutes.

Reporting by Rahul B in Bengaluru; editing by Kate Holton

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