MP’s call for Fixed Odds Betting Terminal’s maximum stake to be cut to just £2 per play

A cross party Parliamentary Group has released a scathing report on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBT’s) calling for the government to tighten up regulation.

The machines, which can be found in high street bookmakers, are reportedly highly addictive and a cause for concern for many in the community. The report offers evidence of the machines leading to financial issues, loss of family relationships, mental illness, problems within the community and crime in the form of money laundering and violence.
During the investigation, the all-party group heard from individuals who had previously gambled on FOBT’s, local government representatives, community leaders, faith groups, GamCare, representatives from the wider gambling industry, regulators and academic experts. The Association of British Bookmakers were invited to take part in the investigation but declined.

The Gambling Act 2005 was designed to;
(a) prevent gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime,
(b) ensure that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way, and
(c) protect children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.

The group concluded that they believe FOBTs fall outside of these principles and called upon the Government to address the issue. They suggest reducing the maximum stake from £100 to just £2. They also advocate reducing the speed of the spin on FOBT’s. In addition, they raised concerns that local government should be given more power to prevent the clustering of bookmakers and that staffing levels in bookmakers should be reviewed. The FOBT’s offer hard gambling in an environment that has low levels of supervision.
So where were the bookmakers? And why did they not cooperate with the enquiry?

Malcolm George, Chief Executive of the Association of British Bookmakers hit back at the review claiming that it was “deeply flawed” and “financed by those with interests in the casino, arcade and pub industries.” He added “if the findings of this rigged report are implemented, it could spell the beginning of the end for the high-street bookmaker.”

If the stakes truly are so high for our bookmakers, one must question the wisdom of boycotting the enquiry. There is clearly an appetite to address the real or perceived problems associated with FOBT’s in the UK and the members of the Association of British Bookmakers would surely benefit from a seat at the discussion table.

Further reading:
Responsible Gambling – Key for Operators


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