Thursday, 19 December 2013

Stop the FOBTs takes its fight to Parliament

Campaign takes to College Green to urge MPs to vote no to "status quo"

The Stop the FOBTs Campaign team joined Tom Watson MP and other Members of Parliament earlier this month on the House of Commons Green to raise awareness of roulette machines in betting shops and to call for a reduction in the maximum stake from £100 to £2. The event was attended by journalists from national newspapers, and supporters included councillors, activists and problem gamblers.

Disappointing result on roulette machines vote

Despite a groundswell of support for the Campaign in recent months, particularly from Labour MPs, the Government's recommendations from the recent review of gaming machine stakes and prizes was passed. The Government will now maintain the maximum stake on betting shop roulette machines at £100, despite the Prime Minister promising last month that a "proper look" at FOBTs would be forthcoming. Campaign founder Derek Webb expressed disappointment, but vowed to continue the Campaign until its objective is achieved.

Backing needed for Early Day Motions

Supportive MPs, including Tom Watson and David Lammy, have tabled Early Day Motions (EDMs) to try and raise issues relating to betting shops among backbench MPs, and need your support to encourage MPs to sign them. Tom Watson's recent EDM calls for a reduction in the maximum stake on the machines from £100 to £2 per spin and David Lammy MP raised an EDM which addresses the safety of betting shop staff and the increasing popular practice of lone-staffing, leaving betting shop employees exposed and vulnerable.

You can contact your MP, raise the issue with them and urge them to sign the EDMs on our website.

Trio of new Council motions – Preston, Fareham, Brighton and Hove

Three more local councils have joined a list of local authorities that have announced their support for an initiative encouraging the Government to restrict roulette machines in the UK.

Fareham Council, Brighton and Hove City Council and Preston Council have all voted in favour of restricting FOBTs. The move comes on the back of Liverpool City Council and Hackney Council passing similar motions last month, with the former calling for an outright ban on FOBTs. Many more councils are set to follow suit in the New Year.

FOBTs hitting the headlines

The Campaign made front page news in the Daily Mail this month with a story detailing how Britons pump £46billion a year into gambling machines, which also ran in the Telegraph and Daily Star, sparking a wave of media interest. Campaign founder Derek Webb debated FOBTs on BBC Radio 5 Live, as well as making another appearance on the BBC Breakfast sofa.

The Sunday People's own campaign to curb the addictive roulette machines gathered momentum too, running stories from MP John Denham claiming that punters are gambling £2 in betting shop gaming machines for every £3 going into their local NHS and how its columnist blew £500 in an hour on the "crack cocaine of gambling".

Simon Perfitt, who lost everything after gambling away £200,000, also told his story in full to the Guardian, as well as appearing on ITV's This Morning highlighting the addictive nature of FOBTs. Simon had received treatment through the Gordon Moody Association, which is funded by the industry-backed Responsible Gambling Trust. He told of how he was instructed to not mention that FOBTs had an impact on his addiction. In addition, James Petherick, who runs the YouTube channel "Diary of a Problem Gambler" told the Sunday People his story of battling FOBT addiction.

Betfred was exposed in the Mail Online and Guardian for trying to link betting shop manager's salaries to profit on FOBTs, Barnsley Goalkeeper, Luke Steele, spoke out against FOBTs in a blog post, plus Channel 5 and Russia TV have both done feature pieces with Campaign consultants discussing the addictive nature of roulette machines.