On January 15th, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) published the Government’s response to the July 2012 CMS Select Committee’s report into the implementation of the 2005 Gambling Act. Gambling Watch UK had been appalled by that report’s recommendations regarding Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs, aka high stakes betting machines or B2 gambling machines) despite the growing evidence of the dangerousness of these machines. The report recommended a very significant increase in the accessibility of these machines in high street betting shops (by allowing for more than the current maximum of four FOBTs per shop) and amusement arcades (adult entertainment centres, where they would be permitted for the first time), as well as increasing the number allowed in casinos and allowing a more generous ratio of machines to tables in small casinos (thus making the model of the ‘small casino’ more economically viable). Thankfully, the Government has responded to the recent expressions of concern about FOBTs in the media and in parliament, and has resisted all those recommendations. Gambling Watch UK described those recommendations six months ago as ‘illogical and alarming’ (see our website report ‘Hard FOBT Gambling: Alarming and Illogical Recommendations ...’) and we are pleased to see that the Government seems to agree with us.

However, we would have liked to see Government going further, with proposals, either to ban FOBTs from high street betting shops altogether, or to render them less dangerous by reducing the maximum stakes allowed when playing such machines. Yesterday’s DCMS announcement places a lot of faith in the forthcoming programme of research into machine gambling announced recently by the Responsible Gambling Trust. We have already pointed out, however, that this research is likely to have too great a focus on individual players rather than on the dangerousness of the machines themselves and, furthermore, that action is needed now, rather than in several years time, to prevent more tragedies taking place of the kind we have highlighted (see our website report ‘New Gambling Research Focuses on Irresponsible Players ...’). Announcing his Department’s intentions in Parliament, the Minister said that there was yet no clear evidence that FOBTs were harmful. Gambling Watch UK begs to differ. The evidence of harm is as follows:

1. FOBTs combine a number of features which would lead us to expect them to be particularly dangerous.
Like other gambling machines, which are recognised the world over to be more addictive than most other forms of gambling, FOBTs allow for rapid, continuous play. They are programmed to pay out on a schedule designed to encourage continued play and machines have many features, such as visual displays and sounds, which contribute. Their harmfulness is mitigated to some extent by keeping the maximum allowed stake low (£2 or less for other gambling machines in Britain). FOBTs, unlike all other types of gambling machine, allow for much higher stakes, up to £100. Until such machines appeared in British betting shops a few years ago, such high stake, continuous machine gambling was unknown on British high streets. Everything that is known about gambling and problem gambling should have led us to expect that they would be particularly dangerous. It is rather like making legally available a new drug which combines the chemical properties of several existing drugs known to be addictive. The 2012 report of the CMS Committee’s investigation of the 2005 Gambling Act recognised this when they referred to FOBTs as 'hard gambling'.

2. The 2010 national survey showed a high percentage of FOBT players to have gambling problems and roughly a quarter of all takings from FOBTs to come from people with such problems.
The results of the 2010 British Gambling Prevalence Survey showed, as expected, that a relatively high percentage of those who reported playing FOBTs at any time in the last 12 months answered questions about problems related to their gambling which put them above the internationally recognised threshold for 'problem gambling' (9% compared to, for example, 1% for lotteries, between 2 and 3% for scratchcards and bingo, and 4% for other kinds of gambling machine). For those reporting playing FOBTs at least monthly, problem gambling prevalence rose to 13%. High though those figures are, they underestimate the amount of FOBT gambling which constitutes problem gambling. Secondary analysis of BGPS 2010 data, now published in an academic peer reviewed journal, estimates that approximately 23% of all takings from FOBTs (stakes minus payouts) are contributed by people who are above the problem gambling threshold.

3. People who have developed addictions to FOBTs, and their families, are increasingly making themselves known to treatment agencies and through media and website channels.
Problem gambling is notorious for being one of the most hidden addictions. However, recent attention given to the dangers of FOBTs has encouraged individuals and their family members, despite the stigma still associated with problem gambling, to talk openly about their FOBT addictions – see, for example, the Real Life Stories on the Gambling Watch UK website, or the recent live discussion on BBC Radio 5 Live (9 a.m., Friday, January 11, 2013). At the same time, those organisations which provide services for people with gambling problems and their families, such as GamCare and the National Problem Gambling Clinic, are reporting that large numbers of their clients and patients have been experiencing problems with FOBTs.

4. Allowing forms of gambling such as FOBTs in high street venues is contrary to an important regulatory principle which requires that 'harder' forms of gambling should be confined to less easily accessible venues.
The 2012 report of the CMS Committee’s investigation of the 2005 Gambling Act, although, illogically, it went on to recommend expanding the availability of FOBTs, acknowledged that their presence on the high street was contrary to the regulatory principle, which they referred to as the ‘regulatory pyramid’, whereby the ‘harder’ forms of gambling should be confined to venues, such as casinos, which were less easily accessible to the general public.

5. No proper impact assessment was carried out when FOBTs were introduced.
FOBTs were introduced into British betting shops before the Gambling Commission came into being, at a time when there was much uncertainty about the future of gambling in Britain and when the previous regulatory body, the Gaming Board, was weak. No proper assessment of the impact of FOBTs was carried out. They should not be allowed to continue in their present form on our high streets simply because they are now there.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Great article. Being a plumber I know many who gamble on these types of machines. They cause only misery in the end. I have seen some close friends spend alot of money chasing their losses and the ability to have such a high stake gives a false...

Great article. Being a plumber I know many who gamble on these types of machines. They cause only misery in the end. I have seen some close friends spend alot of money chasing their losses and the ability to have such a high stake gives a false sense of being able to claw the losses back.

The government is not interested, they get more tax the more people spend on them, this is the true reality of the situation. I am delighted to see the Irish government taking this issue very seriously. the UK government has no concern for it's citizens only for generating as much money as possible. I noticed labour stated they would allow local authorities to decide wether they will allow them but it should be law.

A maximum stake of £1\£2 would help alot, and curb the addiction to the likes of roulette which allows the £100 maximum stake per spin. Perhaps consistent publicity in the media would help bring real change, not the usual empty promises the Uk government is so good at. Anyway I wish you all the best with the campaign and Merry Christmas.

Read More
Chelsea Plumbers
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Betting shops should never have been allowed gaming machines, but they will never be banned as the government gets 20 percent tax on all profits. Before long hard drugs will be legalised and taxed in the same way,what will society be like...

Betting shops should never have been allowed gaming machines, but they will never be banned as the government gets 20 percent tax on all profits. Before long hard drugs will be legalised and taxed in the same way,what will society be like then!!!. Who cares as long as the money rolls in to the governments coffers.

Read More
Bowser
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Good article, even if I can not agree in some points
pozycjonowanie stron

Appollos
There are no comments posted here yet

Leave your comments

  1. Posting comment as a guest.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location
Type the text presented in the image below

Latest UK News

Parliamentary group lambasts online gambling

05 Dec 2019

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Gambling Related Harm (APPG-GRH) has produced an Interim Report into the Online Gambling Sector which does not mince...

Political parties pledge gambling reform

05 Dec 2019

All four main political parties going into the December 12th general election make specific mention of gambling in their manifestos. Congratulations to...

'The Gambling Establishment' is published - a must read

18 Sep 2019

An important new book will be out in a few days time: The Gambling Establishment: Challenging the Power of the Modern Gambling Industry and Its Allies, by Jim...

The tide is turning against the gambling industry

09 Aug 2019

Great BBC TV programme available online at bbc.co.uk/bbcthree from 4 July 2019. Comedian Lloyd Griffith fails to double his money during a week of gambling,...

Gambling with Lives launch shows the tide is turning

17 Nov 2018

Tuesday this week, 13th November 2018, was the launch of Gambling with Lives (GwL) at the Houses of Parliament. The event was extremely well attended by...

Gambling with Lives

16 Aug 2018

Gambling with Lives (GwL) is a new group started by the parents of a young man with a gambling addiction who committed suicide. They are naturally grief...

FOBT Stake Cut to £2 Maximum

17 May 2018

The Government has at last seen sense and done what we and so many others have been asking for. Today it has announced it is bringing the maximum stake per...

What do you think about online gambling marketing: Gambling Commission wants to know

13 Feb 2018

The Gambling Commission (GC) has announced that it is working with the Competition and Markets Authority to make sure that online gambling companies bring...

Government's disappointing consultation document regarding FOBTs

01 Dec 2017

Several months later than originally expected, DCMS – which meanwhile has become DDCMS, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – has produced, not...

Gambling: a big public health problem neglected

15 Sep 2017

The Gambling Commission has just published a summary of British survey findings for 2015. The results are not new but this is the first time they have put...

TV drama shows gambling machine addiction

01 Jul 2017

The problems associated with the kinds of gambling machines now to be found in betting shops throughout Britain’s towns and cities, tending to be concentrated...

Are we seeing a backlash against liberalised commercial gambling?

05 Jun 2017

I have seen a couple of signs just recently that the tide might be turning against the establishment assumption that a strong, innovating and widely...

Gambling problems are costing Government hundreds of millions

13 Jan 2017

An important report came out at the end of 2016. This was from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), an influential and progressive British...

What shall we say to the Government enquiry on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals?

07 Nov 2016

Good news! Well maybe, let’s wait and see what the actual outcome is. But we do welcome the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) putting out a...

Honest admissions by prominent gambling establishment figure

11 Aug 2016

Gambling Commission’s former Chair talks at the Royal Society of Arts (RSA)   Following his five years as Chair of the Gambling Commission, Philip Graf was...

The Times highlights gambling problems

23 Mar 2016

Did you see the Times of 17th February which devoted part of its front page, a whole double-page spread and an editorial to gambling and specifically the FOBT...

British gambling policy: Business As Usual for 2016

18 Jan 2016

Are there any signs that British gambling policy is changing for the better? Two recent public meetings might suggest some cautious optimism. One was a...

Jim Orford from Gambling Watch UK talks to George Galloway

16 Feb 2015

George Galloway and his wife Gayatri wanted to know how gambling has been allowed to get so out of hand. In this interview Jim gives them an overview of how...

Labour Party's sports betting levy idea criticised

18 Aug 2014

The idea behind the Labour Party’s consultation document ‘More Sport for All’, recently announced by Harriet Harman, Labour’s Shadow Culture Secretary, is...

World Cup betting: Should we be concerned?

13 Jun 2014

The World Cup from Brazil is on and like many others I shall be keeping an eye on the television to follow the progress of England and others. When I do I...

Betknowmore UK - a new social enterprise

25 Mar 2014

Betknowmore UK is a new non-profit, social enterprise. Our mission to to develop and deliver new, innovative, support services, to tackle issues around...

Children and young people: government and industry failing to protect

16 Oct 2013

One of the better established facts, based on research carried out in several countries, is that young people are especially vulnerable to problem gambling....

Local authorities helped to control betting shops

19 Sep 2013

The main railway station in Birmingham, where I live and work, is undergoing major renovation. Its new main entrance was opened earlier this year. Directly...

The Gambling Commission fails to apply its own precautionary principle in its advice about FOBT stakes and prizes

19 Jul 2013

The Gambling Commission has written to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport giving its advice on what should be done about maximum stakes and...

Irresponsible statement by Chair of Responsible Gambling Trust

21 Mar 2013

Gambling Watch UK has been critical of the Responsible Gambling Trust (RGT) since its launch in April 2012. For a start we think that this way of deciding how...

Gambling and Alcohol, Parallels and Shared Solutions: a New Report

21 Feb 2013

A Losing Bet? Alcohol and Gambling: Investigating Parallels and Shared Solutions, a report by Alcohol Concern and the Royal College of Psychiatrists There is...

Government fails to deal with Fixed Odds Betting Terminals on the high street but resists the Select Committee’s call to make them even more available

21 Jan 2013

On January 15th, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) published the Government’s response to the July 2012 CMS Select Committee’s report into...

New Gambling Research focuses on Irresponsible Players rather than Dangerous Gambling Products

05 Dec 2012

Gambling Watch UK has already been critical of the Responsible Gambling Trust (RGT) as a gambling industry-led body which disburses funds for gambling...

The gambling industry levy: £25 million would be a more appropriate target

31 Oct 2012

The industry levy: £25 million would be a more appropriate target for the annual contribution of the British gambling industry to research and treatment. The...

Social Work is Neglecting Problem Gambling

26 Oct 2012

Social Work is Neglecting Problem Gambling  It is now well established that problem gambling is linked to many individual and social problems including;...

'Hard' FOBT gambling: alarming and illogical recommendations from the Culture, Media and Sport Committee

12 Sep 2012

Gambling Watch UK, like others, was waiting with interest to see what this report on the workings of the 2005 Gambling Act had to say about Fixed Odds Betting...

Channel 4 Dispatches puts the spotlight on FOBT machines and betting shops

07 Aug 2012

The harm being done by the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals and the clustering of betting shops in poorer areas came across clearly in last night’s Channel 4...

FOBT Machine Gambling Starts to get the Publicity it Deserves

29 Jul 2012

SCHOOL kids as young as 16 are gambling illegally in high street bookies, a Sun investigation has revealed. We sent a team of 16 and 17-year-olds to a dozen...

The Expansionist Aspirations of the UK Online Gambling Industry

25 Jun 2012

I recently attended a half day seminar on The UK Online Gambling Industry. The seminar was organised by the Westminster eForum which 'aims to provide [an]...

Quaker Action on Alcohol and Drugs Welcomes Gambling Watch UK

31 May 2012

Gambling Watch is a welcome addition to the gambling landscape. The last few years have seen many changes as regards gambling: it is now widely advertised on...

Launch of the Responsible Gambling Trust

25 May 2012

April 2012 saw the launch of the new body – the Responsible Gambling Trust (RGT), which replaces the old Responsible Gambling Fund (RGF).  The RGT takes over...

The Saturday Guardian Money Section talks to leading experts

02 May 2012

Two-thirds of patients treated at the UK's first specialist problem gambling clinic have indicated that controversial fixed odds betting terminals encouraged...

High Streets First - putting the high street before betting shops

12 Apr 2012

High Streets First is campaigning for a change in the law to give local communities a say over the number of betting shops in their area. At the moment...

Support Gambling Watch UK

Together we can make a difference

We believe there is overwhelming support for the view that there are already too many opportunities for gambling and that this is bad for individual, family and community health, but our voices need to be heard if we are to influence public policy..

Click here to register your support