“The Campaign for Fairer Gambling totally refutes recent assertions by Mr. Vennix, the CEO of the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) that its 2013 FOBT data is flawed in any way. If anything the estimates are very conservative under-estimates rather than over-estimates, based on an abundance of caution.
“The Campaign produced data on FOBTs in 2012 and its methodology was made public. The ABB did NOT commission anyone to disprove the data. Similarly, for 2013 the Campaign has publicly disclosed its methodology and stands by its estimates.
“The ABB has provided a document to politicians entitled “Gambling Machines in Betting Shops” which contains many misleading statements, does not fully explain the methodology and has not been independently verified.
“There has still not been any public declaration by the ABB of the exact total amount of cash lost on the B2 games on FOBTs, the most addictive content, which is typically roulette and variations, at stakes up to £100 per spin. The Campaign challenges the ABB to make this information public for each year from 2009 onwards.
“The ABB also claim that shops in wealthier areas are four times more profitable than shops in poorer areas. If so, new shops should be opening in wealthier areas. The Campaign estimates provide the opposite picture, that there is a rise in the number of betting shop licenses in the most profitable areas within the most deprived local authority areas.
“Additionally the ABB claims that 70% of FOBT gamblers play less than once a month and lose an average of £7.55 per session. If true, then these gamblers can take or leave FOBTs and are so disengaged in the activity that a reduction in maximum stake to £2 per spin would not have any impact on them. Based on the ABB statement, this infrequent group is generating less than 10% of the total amount lost.
“The 2005 Gambling Act requires that gambling is “fair and open”. The Gambling Commission publishes information about casinos annually by game and monthly by region. The Campaign believes it is time that the Gambling Commission started publishing monthly statistics on FOBT activity, by the 11 economic regions, by cash inserted, by total amount wagered, by total amount lost and by breaking down the loss into each of B2, B3 and C game categories.
“It is a reflection on how weak the Gambling Commission and the DCMS has been in dealing with bookmakers and their FOBTs that this basic information has not yet been made public. The Campaign would like to challenge the ABB to make public the following pieces of information, which would more than likely back up the findings of the Campaign’s data:
- the exact total amount of cash lost on the B2 games on FOBTs for each year from 2009 onwards
- their estimate of the average amount lost per year per FOBT gambler and the average amount lost per year per regular FOBT gambler (in the more than once a month – the 30% group) who are losing more than 90% of £1.6 billion annually
- the list of locations of new shop licenses for each year from 2009 onwards