* Lawmakers want lower stakes for betting terminals
* William Hill says lawmakers' group has little credibility
* Shares in William Hill, Ladbrokes fall 7 pct
(Adds background, William Hill comment)
LONDON, Dec 8 Britain should drastically reduce
the amount of money gamblers can stake on fixed-odds betting
terminals to tackle addiction and associated crime, a group of
lawmakers said on Thursday.
The maximum stake should be reduced from 100 pounds ($127)
to only 2 pounds, they said, and the government should also
consider slowing the speed of spin on the machines to reduce the
amount wagered in a session.
A fixed odds betting terminal is a touch screen machine
found in betting shops that allows players to bet on the outcome
of various games such as roulette with fixed odds.
Introduced 15 years ago, the machines have become a
lucrative business for high street betting shops and helped them
to survive despite the growth of online gambling.
Charities have warned that the machines are highly addictive
and they can results in gamblers losing hundreds of pounds in
less than a minute. Some opponents also argue that the machines
can be used to launder money from criminal activities.
Shares in bookmakers William Hill and Ladbrokes
Coral were trading down 7.2 percent and 6.8 percent,
respectively at 1225 GMT, after the group published its interim
findings. A final report will be published in January.
"The government has a duty to protect the most vulnerable in
our society and to act in the public interest," said Carolyn
Harris, an opposition Labour MP who is chair of the group.
"We strongly urge them to do so and do so with immediate
Ministers have already launched a review of the gambling
industry, including the betting terminals.
William Hill said the report had come from a small group of
lawmakers who had formed their conclusions before they had begun
investigating the issue.
"They are not a Select Committee (an official committee of
lawmakers) and have little credibility in terms of
independence," it said.
Analyst Roberta Ciaccia at Berenberg said it was not the
first time that politicians had proposed the 2 pounds per spin
maximum stake, and she continued to believe it was an "extremely
She said the average stake per session was 10 to 15 pounds.
Setting a limit below that level would wipe out the vast
majority of betting shops, put 50,000 jobs at risk and reduce
government tax receipts from bookmakers, she said.
($1 = 0.7885 pounds)
(Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Kate Holton/Keith Weir)