Friday, 4 March 2016

Tragic gambling addict took his own life after “losing control” and splashing thousands on FOBTs

When will the government take action? I stood to ask a question on FOBTs ion Thursday but didn't get called.

Last week the Mirror reported the tragic tale of a 27 year old carpenter named Ryan Myers who took his own life after losing control of his addiction to FOBTs and getting himself in thousands of pounds of debt.

It is believed that on the very day Ryan took his life, he had just lost £500 on a FOBT.

Three years on since this tragedy occurred and Ryan’s father, John, is calling for a crack-down on FOBTs and has expressed his fury that his son was still receiving promotional messages from betting companies for free betting vouchers even after his death.

Ryan’s father believes his son’s death proves just how damaging FOBTs can be to lives and has launched a petition urging the government to impose tougher restrictions on betting adverts and FOBTs.

John said: “I hate FOBTS with a passion. They’re the crack cocaine of gambling, as you can lose hundreds in minutes and people get hooked - they should cap how much you can spend. It’s disgusting there’s so many betting shops, and so many free bets and adverts with people winning and smiling - while there are no adverts on the devastating impact.”

The story was also featured in the Liverpool Echo, the Daily Mail and The Sun

Also listen to John Myers’ heart-breaking tale on BBC Radio 4’s Today Show.

Betting giant ‘encouraged addict until he lost home and children’
A recent report by the Gambling Commission has revealed that one of Britain’s biggest betting groups, Paddy Power, encouraged a problem gambler to keep betting on FOBTs until he lost five jobs, his home and access to his children.

The story broke in the Guardian and was also picked up in The Times, The Independent, the Daily Mail and City A.M.

The betting giants have been hit with a record penalty for preying on the addicted punter and will have to pay £280,000 to socially responsible causes.

Paddy Power admitted it had told its staff to encourage the gambler despite the fact they knew he was working five jobs to fund his addiction and that he had no money. When the store manager was informed that the customer had been making less frequent visits to the shop, staff were told to take steps to try and increase his visits.

The same investigation also revealed that Paddy Power had failed to prevent gambling from being a source of crime and disorder after it failed to confront a customer who staff suspected was using their FOBTs to launder Scottish bank notes.

Greg Wood also wrote a Guardian Blog on the topic stating that he believes the Paddy Power case is further proof of the ‘scourge of FOBTs’.

The same puclication also covered the story again when Campaign Consultant, Matt Zarb-Cousin, shared his thoughts with them for an Opinion Piece on their website.

FOBT crime and money-laundering – there is a lot of it about!
The Campaign for Fairer Gambling shared its concerns with Politics Home Central Lobby that not enough is being done to prevent vulnerable problem gamblers from becoming addicted to FOBTs ahead of the DCMS Triennial Review consultation.

Following the recent reports that criminals and drug lords have been using FOBTs to ‘launder’ their ill-gotten gains, the Campaign for Fairer Gambling argued that FOBT gambling needed to be included in the 4th EU money laundering directive. If successfully included, it would require any gambler staking over £1,500 in the same venue in the same day to provide ID verification.

Previously bookmakers avoided being included in the 2nd EU money laundering directive despite the recommendation of Sir Alan Budd in his Gambling Review Report 2001 and they also managed to get themselves excluded from the 3rd directive.

FOBTs in the news
FOBTs have been making headlines again this month with a steady stream of stories highlighting the dangers of FOBTs.

The month kicked off with councillors in Mid Sussex voicing their concerns over FOBTsin a debate earlier this month.

Meanwhile in Hounslow it was reported that gamblers were losing £2.8million in the space of one year to FOBTs on its High Street.

The street in question currently has 11 betting shops and 44 FOBTs and their punters lost more on FOBTs last year than on any street in the UK. Despite this, plans have been submitted to open two new betting shop in Hounslow but Councillor Gurpal believes that “to allow another betting shop to open would be to expose more vulnerable desperate people to the risks of gambling addiction and loss of money.”

Liverpool’s gambling habits are not far behind it seems after it was reported thatgamblers lost nearly £2million on 52 FOBTs across 13 bookmakers in or near Williamson Square in Liverpool city centre last year.

Gambling addiction is also rife in Birmingham where gamblers in the city lose collectively £800million to FOBTs every year. New Street, the city’s addiction hotspot, currently has nine bookmakers and 36 FOBTs where its punters are currently losing £1.6million a year.

This month London residents expressed their fury at plans for yet another betting shop to join the eight betting shops and four gambling arcades that currently sit on Kilburn High Road which is just one mile long. Dubbed ‘Britain’s mini Las Vegas’, the high street is notorious for serving one of the capital’s most deprived areas with punters losing £2.54million to FOBTs in just one year.

Punters in Rutherglen and Cambuslang are also experiencing similar losses and with the Daily Record also reporting similar figures in Glasgow.

FOBT addiction in Britain still rages on and is currently responsible for making the UK’s biggest bookmakers more than £1,000 in profit every week. The story was also picked up in the Evening Standard which also highlighted London’s worst-hit streets for gambling on FOBTs.

Similarly, The Mirror reported that UK gamblers are currently spending nearly £1billion on FOBTs, a story that was also picked up in the Guardian who asked, ‘When the chips are down, what’s it like to gamble everything away’.

A gambling addict in London has also shared his experiences of the shocking reality behind FOBTs. Detailing how he spent seven and a half hours feeding gambling machines without a break, the gambler states that he was not once asked about his wellbeing by staff that worked there, a fact which goes against the responsible gambling measures the company claim they have introduced.

The Times also shared a case study which detailed how 50 year old Tom Medley lost his job, his marriage, his home and more than half a million pounds to FOBTs. Tom is not on his own as stories similar to his are occurring more and more as proved by a recent Daily Mail story which detailed similar tales of loss and addiction.