News & views

Matt Zarb-Cousin tells his story to BBC Radio Essex

Posted on January 17, 2014 by admin

Reformed problem gambler Matt Zarb-Cousin talks to BBC Radio Essex about his struggle with problem gambling and the reasons why he believes FOBTs have no place on the UK’s high streets.

Gaming machines boost William Hill sales

Posted on January 17, 2014 by admin

William Hill on Friday underlined the importance of controversial gaming machines to its sales, reporting a 3 per cent rise in underlying net revenues from its shop terminals in its fourth quarter.

The betting terminals, which account for £1.5bn a year of revenues to the industry, are the subject of scrutiny from politicians of all parties because of concerns about potential addiction among customers.

Read the full article in The Financial Times online.

William Hill chief quits Twitter in wake of spat with betting campaigners

Posted on January 15, 2014 by admin

The chief executive of bookmaker William Hill has closed his public Twitter account after a bizarre Saturday night row between himself and campaigners against high-speed, high-stake betting terminals.

Ralph Topping, the four-decade betting veteran who says he “never forgives” an insult, got involved in a heated discussion on social mediabetween his public affairs manager, Andrew Lyman, and the Campaign for Fairer Gambling 10 days ago over the fixed odds betting machines.

Read the full article in The Guardian online.

Sadiq Khan: give councils more power to stop the growth of betting shops

Posted on January 14, 2014 by admin

Last week the government missed a real opportunity to take a big step towards rescuing our high streets. By defeating a Labour party motion that would put betting shops in their own planning use class, they denied local authorities the power to limit the number of betting shops, and the number of fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) in any one area.

As of December 2013 there were just short of 9,000 betting shops in Britain, with 22 betting shops and 88 FOBTs in my constituency of Tooting alone, and the number is increasing all the time. Just before Christmas a planning application was submitted to open a new betting shop in an old H Samuels on Mitcham Road in Tooting town centre. Tooting residents are extremely unhappy with the prospect of another betting shop opening in the area and yet Wandsworth Council appear helpless.

Read the full article in The Guardian online.

Powerful lobbyists and fawning ministers are corroding society

Posted on January 13, 2014 by admin

It was a classic exchange. Neil Goulden, chair of the Association of British Bookmakers, did his best to defend the indefensible. We must place the problem of addictive fixed-odds betting machines in context, he told Radio 4’s Today programme last week. They constitute only a small part of the industry’s total revenues; there are very few problem gamblers. Britain has the best regulated and most socially responsible gaming industry in the world. Obviously voluntary efforts, which had already achieved much, needed to go further. But there was no need for more intervention.

Read the full article in The Guardian online.

Chancellor under fire after taking betting machine boss on trade trip to Beijing

Posted on January 13, 2014 by admin

Chancellor George Osborne is facing questions over why he took a betting firm tycoon on a trip to China.
Luke Alvarez, a boss of one of the world’s biggest makers of betting machines, was taken on a trade mission to the superpower.

The head of the Inspired Gaming Group was one of 20 business leaders handpicked to join Mr Osborne on the trip.
His firm supplies nearly half of Britain’s 34,000 Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs).

Read the full article in The Daily Mail online.

Roulette machines do not belong on the high street

Posted on January 13, 2014 by admin

A generation ago the idea of allowing a fast-action form of electronic roulette to be played and promoted in bookmakers’ shops across the land would have been regarded as absurd.

Roulette is a fixed-odds game and the prevailing wisdom of a couple of centuries held that such casino games should be confined to casinos. There even used to be a “24-hour rule” on casino membership to ensure applicants, even millionaires, had time to cool off.

Read the full article The Guardian online.

EXCLUSIVE: Ed Miliband says it is time to pull the plug on fixed odds betting terminals

Posted on January 13, 2014 by admin

I’ve tried my luck – unsuccessfully – a few times on the Grand National.

But in towns and cities across Britain the old high street bookies are being turned into mini casinos, with more and more fixed odds betting terminals where punters can bet £300 a minute, £18,000 a hour.

And in the hardest-up areas of our country these betting terminals are spreading like an epidemic.

In Newham, London, there are 87 betting shops with 348 machines. In Liverpool there are 153 betting shops with around 559 FOBTs.

Read the full article in The Daily Star online.

George Osborne on trade mission with tycoon who makes machines labeled ‘crack cocaine of gambling’

Posted on January 13, 2014 by admin

George Osborne took the boss of the world’s biggest maker of casino machines on a trade mission to China.

The Chancellor invited Luke Alvarez along even though anti-betting ­campaigners have branded his products the “crack cocaine of gambling”.

Mr Alvarez was one of 20 delegates from British tech companies who joined Mr Osborne on the flagship trip.

But furious critics said his presence made a mockery of the Government’s pledge to tackle what David Cameron only last week acknowledged was the “problem” of the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals found in bookies’ shops across Britain.

Matt Zarb-Cousin of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling said: “Mr Cameron might say he’s concerned about FOBTs but he appears to care more about the profits of the firm that makes them.

Read the full article in The Mirror online.

Miliband: Time to ‘pull the plug’ on betting terminals

Posted on January 12, 2014 by admin

Ed Miliband has said it is time to pull the plug on fixed odds betting terminals. Writing in the Daily Express, the Labour leader said that bookies across Britain were being turned into “mini casinos”.

Read the full article on ITV online.