Trade body the
Association of British Bookmakershas said that player protection and jobs should be considered in the Government’s consultation on stakes and prizes for electronic gaming machines.
In its submission to the Government’s Triennial Review of gaming machines stakes and prizes, the
ABBwarned of significant shop closures and job losses if the Government bowed to pressure groups and reduced stakes and/or prizes on gaming machines in Licensed Betting Offices (LBOs).
ABB Chairman Neil Goulden said:
“The Government has promised an evidence based policy review and we will hold them to that promise.
“There is very clear evidence that problem gambling is about the individual and not any specific gambling product or products.
“Altering stakes and prizes is not an effective form of player protection, nor does it balance the constant regulatory dilemma of allowing the vast majority of our eight million customers to enjoy their leisure time as they see fit, whilst protecting the small minority who do develop problems with their gambling.
“At the same time, the ABB recognises the need for effective consumer protection and we will be introducing a ‘Code of Responsible Gambling in LBOs’, which will build on current best practice and give consumers the self-help tools they need to avoid excessive or irresponsible gambling.
“In doing so, the ABB is putting consumer and player protection at the core of responsible gambling in the UK.”
DCMS launched their consultation in January.
Minister for Sport and Tourism Hugh Robertson said:
"The Government's response balances the need to acknowledge gambling's contribution to the economy with an explicit recognition of the need to protect players, particularly at the higher end stakes.
“We recognise the current concerns about the impact of such machines, are undertaking an evidence based review and will take action if necessary."
B2 gaming machines offer a range of different gaming options including virtual racing and casino style games. There is currently a limit of four B2 machines per betting shop. The maximum stake on a B2 machine is £100 (in multiples of £10) with the maximum prize set at £500.
Ministers will be considering concerns about links between problem gambling and B2 machines.
The consultation sets out four possible options to consider including a preferred option from the Government.
This proposal includes B2 machines stake and prizes remaining the same until more robust evidence is gathered, the casino industry trialling consumer protection measures, such as the use of tracking technology to monitor patterns of play and a proposal to make slight increases to the maximum prizes for category C and D machines that is expected to deliver economic benefits to bingo halls, and seaside amusement arcades and pubs.
Mr Goulden said the “divisive debate over B2 machines is not in anyone’s interests and the lobby against B2 machines is misguided, however well intentioned”.
He added: “We are committed to improving consumer protection and if anti-betting campaigners are not, as they claim, abolitionists, then we invite them to engage with the industry in developing a player focused code which will enhance consumer protection in an effective and sustainable way, without reducing the freedom of individual choice or closing LBOs and losing much needed jobs.
“We would warmly welcome constructive and positive dialogue with a wide range of stakeholders in developing our code.”