Taking a gamble

There has been a long running and heated debate over the controversial Fixed Odd Betting Terminals that are sited in virtually every betting shop across the country.

The debate centres arround a proposal for restricting the maximum stakes on these machines to £2 down from the current £100.

This is opposed by the gaming industry.

They along with other opponents of the reform argue that it will drive the gambling addicts to online betting and also lead to job losses due to betting shop closures.

It is a fact that the profits from FOBTs have fed the growth in shops often in areas of deprivation and a lot of the people playing them are losing money that they can ill afford to.

So simply reducing the stake may not solve the perceived problem and may also have unintended negative consequences.

Gambling attracts people from all sections of society.

However the group that is of most concern are the cash-strapped unemployed who have time on their hands and spend it in the bookmakers.

The FOBTs appear to offer a route to extra money which is so badly needed.

Of course the house nearly always wins.

Frustration at losing can lead to anger machines get vandalised.

Even worse hard pressed betting shop staff are the victims of violent assaults.

This situation is a creation of the deprivation that exists in much of contemporary Britain.

The only winners being the top executives of the betting industry who are earning millions.

The Head of the Bet365 company was recently reported to have paid herself an annual salary of £265 million.

I believe we have to look to do something for the losers in this gaming industry.

Legislation is needed to protect betting shop employees, with rules around pay and working time to match.

To many shops are staffed by a lone employee earning just the minimum wage and as in many other sectors of our economy scant attention is often paid to working time regulations. 

Longer term we need a Liberal plan for a society where everyone has a value and nobody is condemned to years of idleness without enough money to enjoy a decent life.

* David is a member of Horsham and Crawley Liberal Democrats

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8 Comments

  • David Becket 7th Dec '18 - 10:32am

    Some sympathy with the issues, but please get facts right.
    Bet365 is an on line bookmaker and does not operate Fixed Odd Betting Terminals

  • Christopher Haigh 7th Dec '18 - 2:16pm

    People addicted to gambling are vulnerable people and those that make money out of them are the pits. The gambling industry should be heavily regulated by government to prevent people spending beyond their available disposable income. Our town centre is littered with gambling shops which helps In making the town centre an unattractive place to spend ones time.

  • Richard Underhill 7th Dec '18 - 6:21pm

    After the budget the minister resigned, but her action was overshadowed by a wave of resignations from the cabinet because of Brexit. If the PM has not noticed the increase in gambling addiction, she should. Have a conscience and give Tracey Crouch her job back, ideally replacing her previous S of S.
    Make Jo Johnson the Brexit minister and give him a free hand. This man has a future.

  • David Warren 7th Dec '18 - 6:43pm

    Thanks for the comments.

    Another point that I didn’t make in my article is how the FOBTs have changed the atmosphere in betting shops and not for the better.

    A lot of older followers of horse and greyhound racing go to the shops to watch the sport live.

    If they do bet it’s usually very small stakes.

    The FOBTs and their users are often very noisy.

    It was summed up for me when I asked a member of staff in a Ladbrokes shops if he welcomed the plan to introduced the £2 stake.

    His response was ‘yes because it will mean a better class of customer.’

    He went into explain that he had worked there a long time and looked back on the relatively peaceful dares before FOBTs were introduced fondly.

  • Robin Grayson 8th Dec '18 - 2:11pm

    It would also help to remove all gambling advertising off TV, as this only feeds the problem of vulnerable people being milked for their cash.

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