Opinion: Urgent action is needed on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals

The Lib Dem message at conference this year is: “Stronger Economy, Fairer Society”. We wholly endorse this message, and our Campaign for Fairer Gambling is absolutely focused on this direction.

There must be sensible enforcement of sensible gambling regulation. The most addictive form of gambling is roulette machines in betting shops – Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, also known as FOBTs.

Because these machines are a very labour unintensive form of consumer spending, they result in a net loss of jobs in local communities and this has a negative impact on tax revenue generation.

In addition to the economic cost of FOBTs, there is the added social cost of FOBT addiction and each addict affects up to twelve others.

FOBTs expose inexperienced, young gamblers to a game that they will lose at several times faster than the real, casino variant.

Our “Stop the FOBTs” campaign is designed to ensure that the maximum stake on FOBTs is reduced from £100 to £2 per spin – in line with all other British gaming machines. At the moment, it is possible to bet up to £100 every 20 seconds. There is no other country in the world foolish enough to allow betting shops with FOBTs at these stakes.

When the tax laws on betting shops changed ten years ago, the bookmakers agreed to keep their telephone betting on shore. However, they soon reneged on this deal.

Now that Government has proposed a tax on their offshore winnings from British gamblers, bookmakers have threatened litigation. How can any MP support a sector that deceives and threatens Government?

A fairer society involves action to ensure that predatory business sectors are properly regulated and pay their taxes. A responsible regulator should act in the interests of society and consumers, not the predator operators.

Reducing the maximum stake on FOBTs will help towards delivering the objectives set out in the current legislation. The 2005 Gambling Act of prevention of harm to young and vulnerable people is being breached by FOBTs.

We can work towards achieving a stronger economy and a fairer society if we take logical action on FOBTs without delay.

* Derek Webb was a successful poker player, businessman and the inventor of Three Card Poker. He now funds the Campaign for Fairer Gambling and the Stop the FOBTs Campaign.

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  • William Wilson 19th Sep '13 - 5:55pm

    I have read Mr. Dirk Vinnix statement and dispute his first claim that “Problem gambling is not product led” It is a fact that since FOBTs were introduced betting shops have vastly increased and in some places four or five in the same area. One such place being Reading as there are six betting shops within about 150yrds of one another. Also shops now open from 8am to 10pm weekdays and 11am to 10pm on Sundays and this is all due to obtain increase revenue from these machines.
    His second point that the average spin time is 40seconds. The claim put by Fairer Gambling was that £100 could be bet in 20seconds and that is a fact, l have done this myself.
    His fourth point that the 2005 Gambling Act is not being breached but in my experience the part “Fair and Open” has not been held up. I had a dispute with Coral Bookmakers and with their own print out it showed discrepancies and when l requested the workings of the machine l was told this information “was not available”. After complaining to The Gambling Commission, my MP and finally the court l did not get an answer and ended up paying court costs over next seven years. (Hardly FAIR AND OPEN).
    On his last part his figures speak for them self, so much money is being made by these machines it would hurt his industry and also be a big drop for the Treasury but that does not take it away that all of this is entirely at the expense
    of the customers.

  • fixed odds betting terminals (fobts) are very dangerous, destroy 1000s of families cause crimes and suicides, whole wages/savings can be lost in a matter of minutes as it is possible to bet £100 per spin with a repeat button.
    bookmakers cluster in poor areas where most players are low income, unemployed, studends and young people
    the reason for that clustering is because only 4 machines are allowed per shop and bookmakers want to have as much fobts as possible. in my town there is 10 bookmakers, 2 arcades and a casino all within 5 minute walk, who needs so many places to gamble.
    dirk vennix is from abb so he is defending the machines because he is being well paid by bookmakers, his facts are untrue and manipulated, those machines suck all the money from local people and decent shops close in order for new bookmakers to open, bookmakers give few minimum wage jobs while taking 1000 times as much from people ruining their lives.

  • I play and watch these machines daily and can guarantee if you leave one number vacant, but back all the rest in a sector that number invariably is found and given by the machine so your bet loses . Also if two ,three or even one number is not covered ,it will come in ,hence a £100 pound bet with one open number will be a losing bet and then we are supposed to believe its random and not fixed . Try it you will find the same conclusion.

  • These things are terrible, they are sucking so much money out of the high street and they are even popping up in local council estates.

    I feel betrayed by my own GVT for putting them in, the taxes they make off these machines are built on the misery and crime of others.

    You can lose £1000 on them in less than 2 minutes. These places are on every street corner, the temptation is always there.
    All it takes is one bad day, or a weak moment.

    Before these machines I never went into bookies, they are grooming today’s generation from the penny slots they used to put in our arcades and local cafes.

    Its disgusting. All I see is gambling shops and pawn brokers. They are that evil.

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