Britain proposes limits on high-stakes gambling machines

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Britain is cracking down on roulette and blackjack machines that allow casual gamblers to wager £300 ($400) a minute.

There are roughly 30,000 of the controversial machines — considered the industry’s most profitable — in British betting shops and casinos.

The government is hoping to reduce the maximum bet from £100 ($132) every 20 seconds to between £2 ($2.65) to £50 ($66.25). It’s also looking to extend the minimum time between wagers.

“Given the strong evidence and public concerns about the risks of high stakes gaming machines on [main streets], we are convinced of the need for action,” said gambling minister Tracey Crouch.

The government said it would further consult industry and experts before making a final decision on the machines, which are called Fixed Odds Betting Terminals.

Big British gambling firms operate thousands of shops, many of which are clustered in poorer neighborhoods. Gamblers are allowed walk off the street to bet on sports and play machines.

The shops have over 6 million customers each year, according to the Association of British Bookmakers.

Many of the largest industry players, including Paddy Power Betfair, William Hill (WIMHY) and Ladbrokes (LDCOY), are publicly traded.

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