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.