“We are very disturbed by the committee recommendations. Instead of cutting back on destructive roulette machines in betting shops (known as Fixed Odds Betting Terminals – “FOBTs” or B2s), they are recommending more FOBTs in betting shops and allowing them in other venues.
“Adding more FOBTs in betting shops will not reduce betting shop premises clustering; it will result in increased machine clustering.
“Already 80% of turnover in betting shops is derived from gaming on FOBTs, with the remaining 20% from betting over the counter. Betting licenses are being used primarily for gaming rather than betting, which is contrary to the primary activity licensing requirement. Adding more FOBTs in betting shops only makes a further mockery of the law.
“Damage to FOBTs, which is crime on the premises, is routinely going unreported. Crime against betting shop staff has increased in line with FOBT growth, through problem gamblers venting their frustrations.
“The British Gambling Prevalence Survey (BGPS) clearly shows that FOBTs disproportionately attract young, unemployed, low income and vulnerable high-spend and high-time gamblers. This is exactly the demographic profile in which problem gambling will have the highest social impact of crime to fund gambling losses.
“FOBTs gamblers are losing £30 per hour, an average of around £1,000 per gambler per year, with many gamblers losing far more. The Government itself already has adequate evidence of FOBT addiction. The National Health Service Clinic run by Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones showed in a 2010 report that over 60% of problem gambles gambled on FOBTs. You can read this document in full here (see slides on page 7).
“The most frustrating aspect of the issue is that the bookmakers know how much problem gambling they are causing. They know they are in breach of the problem gambling licensing objective of the 2005 Gambling Act. They know what percentage of individual funds deposited into FOBTs are gambled until totally lost. They know what percentage of all funds deposited into FOBTs are lost. It is certain that these are both high percentages and real evidence of problem gambling. But the politicians have not been willing to ask for this evidence!
“We will continue to oppose FOBTs at www.fairergambling.org.”
Derek Webb, Campaign for Fairer Gambling