The Campaign for Fairer Gambling has backed Newham Council in their case against Paddy Power, who have applied to open another betting shop in an economically deprived borough where there are already more than 80.
Newham have expressed concerns, due in part to the location of the proposed shop on Green Street, which would be situated around 100 yards from another Paddy Power and near to a Ladbrokes, which is opposite another Ladbrokes.
Newham are the first local authority to object to a premise license on the basis that the shop will be used for gaming on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) rather than traditional over the counter betting. If Newham succeed, it will set a national precedent for other local authorities wanting to stem the proliferation of betting shops on their high streets.The Campaign for Fairer Gambling has been highlighting the dangers of FOBTs due to their high-speed and high-stakes content. It is possible to stake up to £100 every 20 seconds on FOBTs, which has led to them being labelled “the crack cocaine of gambling”. It recently launched the “Stop the FOBTs” campaign in Parliament, which advocates a reduction in the maximum stake to £2.
Whilst the Gambling Act 2005 recognises this to some extent by limiting each shop to four FOBTs, bookmakers leapfrog these regulations by opening up as many shops as possible in order to facilitate more machines on the high street.
Estimates recently published by the Campaign showed the scale of gambling on FOBTs in Newham:
1. There are 76 betting shops in the London Borough of Newham
2. An estimated 279 FOBTs are already operating
3. It is estimated a staggering £456m was gambled on these machines alone last year
4. Losses on FOBTs amounted to over £14.5m
5. Most concerning it is estimated £3.34m was lost on FOBTs by addicted problem gamblers
A report carried out by Howard Reed, a former Chief Economist at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), analysed the economic impact of FOBTs and concluded that for every job created by the betting industry, three jobs are lost in the wider economy. On current growth projections, by 2023 the revenue from FOBTs could reach £3.4bn, costing Newham 450 jobs.
Matt Zarb-Cousin, from the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, said: “The consequences of allowing high-stake, high-speed and hardcore gaming on every high street are starting to be realised. These macines not only have a strong relationship with problem gambling, but they are also costing jobs as well. We’re backing Newham because bookies who want to open more and more shops for the sole purpose of getting more FOBTs onto the high street should not expect an easy ride.”
Lyn Brown, MP for West Ham, said: “We need urgent action. We need the Government to deliver on their localism promises and give local councils like Newham the power to curb this ruthless and predatory industry that stalks poor communities and encourages misguided hopes and unrealistic dreams. Poorer communities are being targeted and that is indefensible.”
Stephen Timms, MP for West Ham, said: “We have 34 betting shops running these machines in my constituency – we do not need them. Action needs to be taken urgently. The government must allow councils the power to decide whether or not to welcome such betting practices to their high streets.”
For more information about the Stop the FOBTs campaign, please visit: www.stopthefobts.org
About the Campaign for Fairer Gambling
It is a campaign striving for fairness in gambling. So, the campaign is centred around the three licensing objectives of the Gambling Act 2005, aimed at:
1. preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime,
2. ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way, and
3. protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.
The Campaign aims to:
1. Engage with politicians to toughen legislation
2. Gather evidence of unfairness and non-transparency
3. Rally support from special interest groups to highlight the negative social and economic impact caused by problem gambling under the current legislation
The Campaign for Fairer Gambling [fairergambling.org] is a not-for-profit entity funded by Derek Webb and Hannah O’Donnell. The Campaign launched “Stop the FOBTs” in February 2013, a grassroots campaign with an interactive map available at stopthefobts.org.
Landman Economics is an economic research consultancy which specialises in econometric modelling work and policy analysis. Howard’s jobs prior to founding Landman Economics in 2008 included; Chief Economist at the Institute for Public Policy Research, one of the UK’s leading “think tank” research institutions (2004-08); Programme Director at the highly-regarded Institute for Fiscal Studies, with special responsibility for the IFS’s TAXBEN tax-benefit microsimulation model (1995-2004).