An old friend of mine wrote in a letter to Gordon Brown in 2008 that “Betting shops have now become the target of choice for both organised armed gangs and localised anti-social behaviour. The introduction of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals has seen a rise in problem gambling which manifests itself in physical attacks on betting shop staff”.” That old friend was Ian McCartney, former Member of Parliament for Makerfield and a Cabinet Minister. He was proposing, along with betting shop union Communities, to get the national bookmakers to provide better working conditions and protection for their shop workers. The cause of the decline in their conditions of work and the increase in violence toward shop staff was pinpointed in his letter as Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. (more…)
Fixed odds betting terminals, a kind of big-money fruit machine, are driving the profits in betting shops. Some councils are now fighting back.
Alongside the open fronted butcher’s shops and brightly coloured silk houses, the bookmakers lining High Street North don’t draw the eye by comparison.
Inside, the laminate floors and faint whiff of disinfectant underwhelm the senses, and no-one appears to be having much fun. The Las Vegas strip this is not.
Read the full article on the BBC News online.
A Tory MP has apologised for breaching the parliamentary code after the Commons watchdog concluded he should have declared hundreds of pounds of hospitality from Britain’s biggest bookmaker during a contentious year-long inquiry into the betting trade, when he asked questions about gambling and before securing debates on the issue.
Philip Davies, a prominent member of the culture, media and sport select committee, recorded in the register of MPs’ interests that in March 2011 he was taken to the Cheltenham festival – a trip worth £870 – as a guest of the bookmaker Ladbrokes.
Read the full story on The Guardian Online
A campaign has been launched to halt a surge in city centre roulette machines – dubbed the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling.
Bookies have been accused of by-passing legislation to flood Manchester with dangerously addictive games. The city currently has nearly 500 fixed odds betting terminals – stand-alone machines capable of taking up to £18,000 an hour.
Campaigners want the government to tighten up the rules – and the council to challenge new applications.
An application for the city centre’s 25th bookmaker, a William Hill on Deansgate, is due to be considered by licensing chiefs in the coming weeks. City centre councillor Kevin Peel – who is leading the campaign – said: “Bookies are getting round the rules laid out in the Gambling Act in order to install more of these fixed odds betting terminals – dubbed the crack cocaine of gambling due to their addictive nature.
“I say enough is enough. I am not anti-gambling or anti-bookies – I just think they should be betting shops, not mini-casinos.”
Read the full story in the Manchester Evening News online.
The North Yorkshire coastal resort of Scarborough – usually recognised for its seaside charm and traditional amusements – has become another statistic in the long-running campaign against betting shops. According to the Fairer Gambling Campaign, the town’s residents poured nearly £61m into FOBTs in nine book-makers, which are all located withing a one-mile radius. To read the read story from Coinslot International click here.
The Campaign for Fairer Gambling has today requested an apology from the Daily Telegraph related to an article it printed last month, entitled “MPs in attack on campaign against betting shop machines”.
The article alleged that the cross- party group of MPs, the All Party Betting and Gaming Committee, had made a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority against the Campaign for Fairer Gambling’s publicity material concerning Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs).
After taking legal counsel, the Campaign has been able to establish that the complaint was not made by the Committee, of which Philip Davies is Chair, but in fact, made by Mr. Davies in a personal capacity.
Derek Webb, Founder of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, said: “I have still not had sight of the letter of complaint and there is no substantiation in the article which claims that the Committee share the opinion that the adverts were misleading. As I see it, Philip Davies is acting in his own volition rather than in the best interests of all his constituents.”
The business editor of the Daily Telegraph, Alistair Osbourne had interviewed Mr. Webb over a month before Mr. Davies had sent a letter of complaint to the ASA. The quote that Mr. Webb provided to the Daily Telegraph at that time was therefore not related to the letter and was taken out of context. Mr. Webb said: “Bookmakers adverts are regularly having complaints upheld against them by the ASA, so why is the filing of one compliant about a Campaign advert against the bookies FOBTs a business news item?”
Mr. Webb added: “It was a strange interview by Mr Osbourne. He questioned me on what I can only presume were bookmakers’ comments to him.
“When FOBTs were first introduced, the bookmakers explained they were legal because the gambling was in the shop on roulette spins, but the event took place off site at a central location on an internet server. But at the same time the bookmakers’ internet divisions were explaining that internet gambling was at the server location, not where the gambler was, so using the exact opposite explanation to justify both gambling activities.
“The sensible answer, as reasoned in 2004 by Susanna Fitzgerald QC, is that something is happening in two places, where the gambler is and where the server is. This would have meant that FOBTs were operating illegally and the Gaming Board for Great Britain could have continued in its lawsuit against William Hill related to FOBTs.
“Despite sensible recommendations by Don Foster and the Lib Dems and increasing support in the Labour Party to place restrictions on FOBTs it seems there is still a long way to go and far more information to be brought forward into the public arena. It is irresponsible journalism for media to generate coverage based on one MP’s personal letter of complaint in order to hurt the credibility of whistleblowers in any business sector.”
For a copy of the letter to the Daily Telegraph and for more details on the Campaign for Fairer Gambling visit www.fairergambling.org.
The Campaign for Fairer Gambling has today announced that Adrian Parkinson, a former Regional Gaming Manager, will be joining its campaign against Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs). The betting industry whistle blower, who featured on the recent Panorama programme on gambling, will take up a consultancy position alongside Matt Zarb-Cousin, a reformed gambling addict and campaign founder, Derek Webb.
An extraordinary article in the Daily Telegraph…our adverts seem to working! No official complaints received by the Campaign directly, so watch this space for more.