Sheffield father welcomes new gambling rules following son’s suicide

A father from Sheffield, whose son committed suicide following a gambling addiction, has welcomed changes to gambling rules today.

Charles Ritchie lost his son 24-year-old son Jack to suicide in 2017.

From today, the maximum stake that can be played on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBT’s) is being cut from £100 to £2.

These new rules are designed to  reduce the risk of players losing large amounts of money in a short space of time.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Ritchie said the machines are “incredibly dangerous.”

“Most people who play FOBTs don’t get a great deal of fun out of them,” he said.

“It’s very different from going to the races…for a very significant proportion of people, it’s a hellish experience.”

In November last year, Charles Ritchie and his wife, Liz Ritchie, teamed up with other parents to set up the charity Gambling With Lives.

“[This change] is moving from something where you could lose £300 a minute to something where you could lose £6 a minute,” he added.

Until today, FOBT’s allowed gamblers to place stakes of three-figures every 20 seconds, on games of chance such as roulette.

Matt Zarb-Cousin, former spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn and campaigner against the abuses of the gambling industry, described FOBT’s as “the crack-cocaine of gambling.”

The change was announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond in his budget in October last year.

A group of medical students at the University of Sheffield are currently setting up an app called ‘Bet On Me’, which aims to help those who feel that they are addicted to gambling.

Akshay Kumar, one of the app creators, said: “I think this is great news. I truly believe this is the right step in tackling this addiction.

“With this, and hopefully more advancements in the near future, we can provide more help and support to those who are in need.”

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