The Fairer Gambling campaign has warned the Gambling Commission that it can issue as many premises reminders as it wishes, but until it puts the correct policing measures in place nothing will change.
The notices – aimed at betting shops who were not complying with the Commission’s License Conditions and Codes of Practice – have been issued by the Gambling Commission to remind betting shop operators that betting must be the primary gambling activity on-site.
The Commission states that it is “closely monitoring” and “reviewing” those operators who seem to be using gaming machines as their primary activity, but there is no evidence that it is ready to actually do anything and until they start policing these establishments properly operators will continue to take advantage of the lax regulations.
The regulations currently restrict betting shops to a maximum of four betting machines per location, in an attempt to keep over-the-counter business as the main activity. These machines are, however, now providing betting shops with well over half of their gross turnover. This has led to bookmakers opening multiple premises in close proximity to increase the number of money spinning machines, known as FOBTs, that they can have in the area.
We believe that betting companies are exploiting loopholes in the current regulations to maximise profitability by increasing the number of high-speed gambling machines on the high street, which is leading to addicts and other vulnerable people being exploited by bookmakers.
Until now, this problem has largely been ignored by the Government, as it has been more concerned with keeping gambling businesses happy than with avoiding the potentially devastating social implications it could have on players.
We believe that the lame duck premises reminders issued by the Gambling Commission are nothing more than lip service to the law, and until they change the legislation and regulate more stringently nothing will change.
We believe that gaming machines should never be the primary activity of betting shops, and so the damaging repercussions of these fast-moving, high-risk games have become the main focus of our campaign.