The Campaign for Fairer Gambling is continuing its dialogue with the Gambling Commission (GC) in an attempt to clarify the primary activity of betting shops following an influx of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) onto our high streets.
In August 2012 the GC issued a ‘Licensing Authority (LA) Bulletin – Special edition – primary gambling activity (The Bulletin)’. You can read this bulletin in full here.
This message was also essentially the same as printed in the 24 August 2012 issue of Coinslot International magazine, under a headline “Commission defines ‘primary gambling activity’”.
We believe that this was a reaction to our recent exposure of the matter which included a letter to Philip Graf, chairman of the GC, a letter to all LA licensing officers and commentary in the magazine Public Sector Executive. We have since followed up with another letter to Mr Graf, to reiterate that the dialogue surrounding this matter is far from over.
The GC view that FOBTs are not the primary activity in betting shops is untenable. To use the bookmaker’s favourite phrase – there is “no evidence” that FOBTs are not the primary activity of betting shops. In our opinion, bookmakers’ continued dependency on these machines signals an undeniable shift in primary activity. You can read our full response to the Bulletin here.
The continued confusion around this area, coupled with the GC’s weak attempt to clarify the issue, is further evidence that strong action needs to be taken to finally put the issue of primary activity to rest.
We await Mr Graf’s response with interest and will continue to seek clarity around this issue and support LAs in getting to grips with FOBTs that have the potential to ruin their communities.