THE Government’s decision to slash the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals from £100 to £2 has been welcomed by campaigning Hyndburn MP Graham Jones.

Culture Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed the move yesterday despite claims by the bookmaking industry it would cost thousands of jobs.

The machines, a feature of high-street betting shops, have been dubbed ‘the crack cocaine of gambling’ and blamed for vulnerable people losing thousands of pounds in a short time.

In response to the industry’s campaign since the cut was originally proposed last year, Mr Hancock said: “We have chosen to take a stand.”

Mr Jones, who has taken a leading role in the Parliamentary campaign against the machines, said the disruption to bookmakers was a price worth paying to protect people from gambling addiction.

He said: “I welcome the Government’s decision.

“For five years, I have been at the forefront of the campaign in Parliament to tackle these terminals, the crack cocaine of gambling.

“We need to back the old-fashioned bookmaker.

“Gambling addictions destroy the lives of vulnerable individuals and their families and communities, and the current eye-watering limit of £100 feeds this destruction.

“People can lose thousands of pounds in the course of a couple of hours due to the high maximum stake,” Mr Jones said.

“We need to ensure that the gambling industry protects its customers from the dangers of addiction.

“We have seen these dangerously addictive machines replace traditional betting around events like horseracing and football accumulators.

“While the move will cause disruption to bookmakers, it is time that we value people over profit.”

Lord Tony Greaves, leader of Pendle Council’s Liberal Democrat group, said: “The Government has taken absolutely the right decision.

“We have too many betting shops on our high streets anyway.”

Blackburn with Darwen Borough regeneration boss Cllr Phil Riley said: “This is a good move.

“The bookmakers have been scaremongering over job losses but people can lose their life savings in 30 minutes on these machines.”

Mr Hancock said: “When faced with the choice of halfway measures or doing everything we can to protect vulnerable people, we have chosen to take a stand.

“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.”