FOBTs continue to be problem for society. The crack cocaine of gambling that allow gamblers to stake £100 every 20 seconds; left thousands of people with gambling debts; have reduced bookmakers to unwelcoming high street casinos and changed their character; seen violence in bookmakers as a result of these machines; allowed the industry to reduce staff and leave often young, female staff lone staffing.
I have signed EDM 61 welcoming the formation of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs).
The BBC Panorama broadcast on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals which aired on Monday 12th September has re-emphasised how strong the association is between pathological gambling and FOBTs - dubbed the “crack cocaine of gambling”.
This is the second time in four years that Panorama have visited this subject and despite the concerns raised in the November 2012 Panorama investigation, “Gambling Nation – undercover in Britain’s bookies” and the widespread media coverage of the issue since, there are now more FOBTs on the high street and more money than ever being lost on them.
There was a recent article in The Times Thunderer comment discussing the importance of lowering the stake on FOBTs and why FOBTs are so dangerous.
Last month, the Daily Mail revealed that Theresa May is backing a full review of FOBTs led by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. In the same week that the Government intimated a clamp down on gambling adverts on TV, the bookmakers’ own appointed "independent watchdog", the Senet Group, was reprimanded by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for one of its adverts.
The ASA deemed misleading statistics around their responsible gambling messages as "a relatively clear breach" of their standards and without even holding an investigation they instructed the Senet Group not to use the advert again. After being accused of heavy-handed lobbying of Scottish MSPs, the Senet Group is clearly more than just an "independent watchdog" but some MPs have been drawn in by their lobbying tactics.
A letter on FOBTs from Christopher Snowdon of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has been circulated. The IEA is a far-right pseudo-libertarian think-tank that is funded by parasitic sectors such as tobacco. The IEA’s deceptive analysis of FOBTs is a desperate move to support the bookies and should be ignored.
Based on all the points raised above, the work of the newly formed All Party Parliamentary Group on FOBTs is now clearly critical in helping to resolve this damaging anomaly of the 2005 Gambling Act.