The Campaign for Fairer Gambling has retained Matt Zarb-Cousin to help get its message out.
Matt, whose previous roles have included a researcher in the House of Commons, will work on the Campaign with founder Derek Webb to highlight the issues surrounding “FOBTs” (fixed odds betting terminals), also known as B2 machines – the machines found offering roulette in high street betting shops. These machines were introduced when the betting shop sector was unregulated and then legitimised by the Labour Party in the 2005 Gambling Act. They have since multiplied to such an extent that they have been dubbed the “crack cocaine of gambling”.
Talking about joining the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, Matt said: “I am delighted to be joining the Campaign. I am passionate about the issues surrounding Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, having experienced first-hand their propensity to turn people who enjoy a bet into problem gamblers. With my experience in politics and campaigns, I am very confident that we will achieve our objectives.”
Derek added: “We are honoured that Matt has decided to support the Campaign for Fairer Gambling. His assistance will prove invaluable as we step up our activity. The recent Dispatches TV programme should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that action should be taken against betting shop roulette machines as soon as possible.”
Matt has suffered personally from the proliferation of FOBTs. From the age of 16 he became addicted to using the machines at his local betting shops. He recently appeared in the Channel 4 Dispatches programme, ‘Britain’s High Street Gamble’.
Matt explained: “I started off betting small amounts of money, but would often win ten pounds. This snowballed until I was putting £20 in a machine every single day – and later more. I went into the betting shop every day for two years after school, wearing my uniform, and I was never ID’d. The second time I went in I put a £10 in and then got it up to £20, and then the next time I went in, I put £20 in and got it up to £50. It just snowballed, and from then on I think I went in every day for the next two years.”
With FOBTs now contributing about 80% of the turnover in betting shops and generating around £1.4 billion per year for bookmakers, compared to the combined table and machine win in casinos of under £900 million only, and probably around £700 million for government from all associated taxes, the Campaign for Fairer Gambling realises a total FOBT ban is unlikely. Therefore, the campaign is centred around recommending the best restrictions on the content and operation of FOBTs through five key recommendations:
- Reduce the number of machines from four per shop to one
- Reduce the current maximum stake on FOBTs from £100 to £2
- Remove table game content from FOBTs, such a roulette
“All the above recommendations will help move FOBTs towards the 2005 Gambling Act objectives, make gambling fair for players and reduce problem gambling” said Derek.
To find out more about the Campaign for Fairer Gambling see http://fairergambling.org/
About the Campaign for Fairer Gambling
www.fairergambling .org was founded by Derek Webb, a partner in Prime Table Games (PTG) and is funded by PTG. Derek was a successful poker player, businessman and the inventor of Three Card Poker. This game is played worldwide on casino tables.
PTG are experts in understanding gambling game content. PTG created over 30 grantedUSpatents related to original gambling games and has prevailed in complexUSfederal litigation related to gambling games, intellectual property and anti-trust issues, prior to an asset sale to aUSpublic company.
PTG retained only one asset, PTG Poker, which is not being actively marketed at this time. It is an improvement of player v player poker.
Rachael van Oudheusden/Lucy Knighton/Sam Metcalf
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