Friday, 11 September 2015

Fwd: Recess update from the Campaign for Fairer Gambling

Dear Mr Jones, During recess, there have been a number of developments in the fight to reduce the maximum stake on FOBTs down from £100 a spin to £2.

A recently published report by NatCen, which assessed the impact of the Association of British Bookmakers' Code of Conduct for player protection, found "no statistical evidence of any impact of the machine changes". This comes after the Code of Conduct was described as "potentially world leading" by the trade association. Only 1,400 out of 3.9 million sessions utilised the limit setting features.


Before NatCen's evaluation was finally published by the industry controlled Responsible Gambling Trust, the best supported submission ever under the Sustainable Communities Act was rejected by government on the 16th July.

Newham Council, together with 94 local authorities, called on the government to reduce the maximum stake on FOBTs to £2 a spin. The government's rejection of the proposal was described as an "insult" by Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales.

Under the terms of the Sustainable Communities Act, the Local Government Association have six months to re-submit the proposal, before six months of negotiations, during which time the government must try to reach agreement.

On 27th July, the Campaign branded the Association of British Bookmakers' new "self-exclusion zone" a PR stunt. Campaign Consultant Adrian Parkinson told The National: "There is nothing new about self-exclusion. It has been operating in betting shops since the mid-2000s. The bookmakers are trying to improve a system that has consistently been shown to be ineffective in helping pathological problem gamblers to exclude from betting shops."

Private Eye highlighted how vested interests within the industry-controlled Responsible Gambling Trust skewed the research into FOBTs, as well as how links between FeatureSpace and the government threaten to undermine the case for reducing the maximum stake on FOBTs.

Campaign co-founder Derek Webb appeared on Sky News to discuss the bookmakers' dependence on FOBTs. You can watch the full clip here.

Following this, Victoria Derbyshire hosted a debate between Labour MP Chris Evans and Mike Simons, an independent bookmakers who has chosen to remove roulette from his FOBTs due to concerns about addiction. You can watch the programme here.

Nick Eardley covered the issue for BBC News Online, and featured the case study of an addict who had lost £400k on FOBTs. You can watch that here.

Candidates for Labour Mayor turned on Tessa Jowell at the Evening Standard hustings for her instrumental role in passing the 2005 Gambling Act, which legitimised FOBTs. Diane Abbott MP and David Lammy MP said the Labour government "got it wrong", and Sadiq Khan MP has made it one if the central issues of his campaign. You can read more about the exchange at the hustings here.

If you would like to discuss any issues surrounding FOBTs in your constituency, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,

The Campaign for Fairer Gambling

info@fairergambling.org / info@stopthefobts.org