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Gambling

New Bill aims to tackle crack cocaine’ of gambling

4 June 2015

The first serious legislative attempt to enforce a reduction in the maximum stake for Fixed Odd Betting Terminals (FOBTs) is underway, as Lord Clement-Jones’ new Gambling Bill was published today.

FOBTs were first introduced in 1999 but particularly in the last five years, concerns have grown as it has become increasingly apparent that they account for the most addictive form of gambling with disturbing socially destructive consequences.

The growing level of public disquiet coupled with clear evidence of a link between the placements of FOBTs and social deprivation has led to the issue being called the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’.

The Gambling (Categorisation and use of B2 gaming machines) Bill proposes to cut the maximum stake on FOBT machines from £100 to just £2.

Leading social policy charity CARE, who campaign for legislative changes to the law to address problem gambling, has called on the government to recognise the need for urgent action by giving the Bill time in the House of Lords for a proper debate to take place.

Lord Clement-Jones said:

“The social disruption left in the wake of FOBTs, and growing level of public concern associated with them, is now such that the status quo is unsustainable.

“The law needs to change.

“To this end I am very pleased to have tabled the Gambling (Categorisation and Use of B2 Gaming Machines) Bill which has been published today.

“The reduction of FOBT stakes from £100 to £2 proposed by my Bill will transform FOBTs so that rather than being the source of real suffering and hardship as is the case today, they become instead relatively benign forms of entertainment.”

CARE’s Director of Parliamentary Affairs Dan Boucher said:

“Lord Clement-Jones has wisely recognised that the level of concern associated with the socially destructive implications of FOBTs is such that this is an issue that now requires action. It can no longer be ignored.

“The addictive challenge arising out of FOBTs results from the combination of the £100 stake and the very rapid speed of play that is the FOBT’s trade mark.

“The £100 stake and rapid speed of play means that it is possible to lose large amounts of money in very short periods of time.

“The best way to address the problem is to end this dangerous combination by reducing the stake from £100 to £2 which is exactly what the Gambling Bill does and CARE very much hopes that the Government will recognise that something must be done and give time for the Clement-Jones FOBT Bill.”

Notes to Editors:

For more information and interview requests, please contact CARE’s press office on 07581153693 / james.mildred@care.org.uk

The Bill was published on the Parliament’s website this morning and can be read here: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2015-16/gamblingcategorisationanduseofb2gamingmachines.html

Since their introduction FOBTs have yielded almost £1.6million for bookmakers. According to the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, mapping of betting shops and estimates of FOBTs gambling and losses revealed that high stakes gambling machines suck money from the poorest communities.

Research published in 2012 compared 15 different gambling activities and estimated that the percentage of FOBT losses from problem gamblers was 23 per cent: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14459795.2012.689001

Polling for England, Scotland and Wales revealed the level of public opposition to FOBTs last year, with three quarters of voters saying they wanted the £100 stake reduced.

A BBC Panorama investigation in 2012 published police statistics showing there had been a nine per cent increase in crimes associated with betting shops since 2008: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20182750

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Gambling

While for some, gambling is just harmless fun, for a significant minority it causes genuine devastation. Our vision is to see laws passed that will help protect vulnerable problem gamblers.

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