The Campaign for Fairer Gambling has hit out at a number of new problem gambling initiatives being touted by the bookmaking industry. Among them is The Association of British Bookmakers (ABB)’s new Code of Conduct, a seemingly knee-jerk reaction now that the industry is under political pressure related to Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), the roulette machines found in betting shops. Interestingly, neither betting shop managers nor FOBT problem gamblers were consulted to provide input into the code.
Richard Glynn, Ladbrokes CEO, is now tying senior staff bonuses to the prevention of problem gambling, despite the fact that his own bonus is tied to increasing revenues. Following investigations by the Gambling Commission, Ladbrokes was found to be lacking in adequate controls regarding anti-money laundering and social responsibility. However, the Gambling Commission, did not spell out exactly what those failings were and did not impose any sanctions or penalties on the company or the individuals involved.
More concerning is that the Gambling Commission has implied that this lack of control was probably similar across all large betting companies. While an investigation of Coral was made public, and some penalties applied, the Gambling Commission has still not identified the consequences of any investigations into other companies.
Derek Webb, founder of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, said: “Until the Gambling Commission comes clean, identifies what the exact failings were at Ladbrokes, why the investigation into Ladbrokes was originated, and identifies the investigations into other companies, there cannot be any confidence in the bookmakers’ Code of Conduct.
“Ralph Topping, CEO of William Hill, is desperately and preposterously claiming that horses and dogs will die if FOBTs are restricted. It is the bookmakers’ aggressive marketing of FOBTs to sports and racing gamblers that has resulted in the decline in horserace revenue and consequently the levy. One of the most obvious likely changes as a result of restrictions on FOBTs would be an increase in horserace revenue and therefore the levy that supports it.”