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DCMS Gambling Machine Review

Campaign for Fairer Gambling

3 min read Partner content

Today DCMS announced that it was to hold a long awaited review of gaming machines and social responsibility measures.

In what is a wide sweeping review of all types of gaming machines looking at stakes and prizes, their locations and the effectiveness of social responsibility measures, FOBTs will also come under the spotlight. Launching the review and a call for evidence Minister Tracey Crouch said of FOBTs “This will include a close look at the issue of FOBTs and specific concerns about the harm they cause, be that to the players themselves or the local communities in which they are located.”

The "call to evidence" implies that DCMS has shunned historical advice by the Gambling Commission and bookmaker influenced problem gambling research bodies.

Derek Webb, founder of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, stated:  “Our campaign has always been evidence based.  In the last triennial review DCMS made the mistake of relying on Gambling Commission advice which incorrectly claimed that FOBTs posed no risk to two of the three licensing objectives.

The Commission has allowed bookmakers to avoid having to report criminal damage to FOBTs, resulting in a culture of violence in betting shops which places staff in danger. Social responsibility covers far more that just prevention of harm. It also includes health and safety of staff. It should also include a commitment to providing local authorities, who have enforcement duties under the Act, with fair and open access to all relevant information on betting shop operations.

The whole responsible gambling agenda is on very questionable grounds. The Responsible Gambling Trust focuses on research, education and treatment rather than prevention. It will not contemplate gambling participation reduction as a proxy for gambling harm reduction. The national strategy, designed by the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board, falsely implies that the Commission "statutory framework" requires it to consider the "freedom of the individual", meaning that all prior Commission advice to DCMS has been based on a false premise.

When looking at the stakes across all gaming machines, FOBTs are a blatant anomaly. This is especially so when pubs, bingo halls and amusement arcades which operate in the same town centres and high streets as betting shops, offer stakes at £2 and under whilst betting shops offer hard casino gaming at up to £100. This review, by focusing on location, accessibility and impact on communities as well as problem gambling, clearly has FOBTs in mind and the view of Newham Council and the 92 other Councils backing their call for a cut in FOBT stakes to £2 must now be heard by the Government.”

The Campaign for Fairer Gambling is a campaign which strives for fairness in gambling and is centred around the three licensing objectives of the Gambling Act 2005, aimed at:

1.            Preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime,

2.            Ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way, and

3.            Protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited