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Research shows link between problem gambling and proliferation of betting shops with FOBTs

27 May 2016
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A report commissioned by the Responsible Gambling Trust (RGT) – a body that is funded by the gambling industry - into B2 gambling machines, commonly known as Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) has shown a link between problem gambling, betting shop clustering and FOBT machine play.

The report, ‘Examining the effect of proximity and concentration of B2 machines to gambling play,’ which was published on the RGT website this Tuesday 24 May, stated that problem gambling rates as well as “moderate risk prevalence rates” were highest amongst individuals living in areas with greater numbers of betting shops with FOBT machines.

Data science company, Geofutures conducted the research which sought to map out areas where there is a high concentration of betting shops containing FOBT machines (high concentration was deemed to be an area with more than 3 betting shops - 200m to 400m from one another).

Once mapped, the research looked at gambling activity and FOBT machine play in these high concentration areas.

The research notes that whilst the data shows a relationship between the two, it does not necessarily show causation. However, it also states that this is the first report of its kind to reveal a correlation between the two. It states:

“Problem gambling rates among machine players vary according to whether someone lives in proximity to a concentration of LBOs.” (Licensed Betting Offices)

The researchers also noted that this piece of work cannot be generalised to include all players – however it clearly provides insight into the activities of highly engaged gamblers with loyalty cards.

Given the close association of the RGT with the gambling industry – something that has previously made it the subject of some criticism, see here, its findings are very interesting.

CARE is particularly concerned about the correlation that exists between FOBT play and problem gambling and has called on the Government to reduce stakes on FOBTs to protect the most vulnerable.

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