MPs Launch Parliamentary Report into Fixed Odds Betting Terminals
Report finds there is a ’prima facie’ case for significant stake reduction on FOBTs
The Fixed Odds Betting Terminal APPG will today launch the findings of their six month Inquiry “Fixed Odds Betting Assessing the Impact” which has taken in-depth evidence into the impact of FOBT machines in communities across the UK.
The Inquiry was launched following growing disquiet among politicians about the harm being caused on Britain’s High Streets by the high stake machines, which can be played with little supervision in any betting shop.
Concern has grown that the machines are both highly addictive and an anomaly in the regulatory framework, and offer high stakes casino style gambling with punters at risk of losing £100 every 20 seconds.
The findings of the report include
- That there is now a ‘prima facie’ case for significantly reducing the maximum stake that can be wagered on a FOBT
- At the very least the stake should be reduced on a precautionary basis, in line with the principles which govern the work of the Gambling Commission, until sufficient evidence is presented to the Government that the high stakes on these machines do not cause harm
- That the Gambling Commission “have failed” to adequately advise the Government in recent years, despite the principles for regulation and licencing under which the Gambling Commission operates
- That there is a case for the maximum stake to be reduced to £2
- Government should also consider reducing the speed of spin on a FOBT in order to reduce the potential for harm to be caused and also review the number of FOBTs permitted in an individual bookmaker
- Government should address localism concerns and calls for greater controls over FOBTs at the local level. Powers should be given to local authorities to prevent the clustering of betting shops.
The FOBT APPG, chaired by Carolyn Harris MP, took evidence from, among others, academics, problem gamblers, campaign groups, local authorities, industry experts, Gambling Minister Tracey Crouch, Sarah Harrison, Chief Executive of the Gambling Commission, Chris Kelly, Chair of the Responsible Strategy Gambling Board, Kate Lampard, Chair of Gamble Aware.
The bookies refused to take part in the Inquiry, which Ms Crouch said she was ‘surprised’ to hear.
The Inquiry comes at a critical time, as the Government considers the responses to its Call for Evidence on Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility and as the industry awaits publication of the Review of Stakes and Prizes.
The FOBT APPG comment on this in the Report, stating;
“We were disappointed that the bookmakers declined to participate and fear this is a reflection of their denial of the problems associated with FOBTs and a reluctance on their part to speak to policy makers about appropriate regulation.”
Commenting on the launch of the report, Carolyn Harris MP said:
“There is now a clear case for the Government to substantially reduce the maximum stake which can be played on FOBTs. The time for prevaricating is over. These machines are easily accessed in the most deprived areas, sucking money out of the pockets of families. I support a responsible gambling industry, but there is nothing responsible about how FOBTs are currently being operated. I urge the Government to take action now.”
Commenting on the findings of the report, Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham Council said:
“I welcome this report and am delighted that MPs from across the country and political spectrum have shown their support for a maximum £2 stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals.
“Newham Council has long campaigned for this and I was delighted to be able to present evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on the impact on the communities across the country of such machines. The Government must recognise this comprehensive report and finally bring FOBT stakes in line with other high street gambling machines. The gambling industry has consistently ignored our pleas to stop blighting our high streets with the clustering of betting shops, which bring anti-social behaviour and crime to the heart of our communities.
“Newham fully supports the APPG findings and urges the Government to put people and communities before profit. If the Government is to prove it is on the side of both consumers and communities, it must act quickly to reduce the maximum stake to £2 and remove high stake, hard gambling from the high street.”
The report will be launched in the Jubilee Room in the House of Commons at 9.30am on Tuesday 31st January.
- The Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBT) All Party Parliamentary Group has been created to provide a forum for discussion and further investigation into the impact of FOBTs in our communities. This group, powered by the passion of the members in both houses of Parliament on this issue, will allow a coordinated effort among politicians of all political parties, to come together to discuss how best to address the issues that FOBTs are causing to our communities.
- For more information, please contact Carolyn Harris MP, the Chair of the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals All Party Parliamentary Group or the secretariat for the Group: Kenneth Pritchard (E: [email protected] T: 0207 592 3800)
For further information please contact the FOBT APPG Secretariat
Further information about the FOBT APPG can be found at www.fobt-appg.com