FOBTs will come under close scrutiny in the government’s review
By Bill Barber 1:39PM 24 OCT 2016
THE government has launched its long-awaited review of gambling which will include an examination of gaming machines along with advertising.
Campaigners have long called for the maximum stakes on gaming machines found in betting shops, also known as fixed odds betting terminals or FOBTs, to be reduced to £2 from £100.
Bookmakers have claimed that would lead to widespread betting shop closures which could have a major impact on British racing’s finances through levy and media rights.
In a call for evidence which closes on December 4, the government said the review would cover the maximum stakes and prizes for gaming machines across all premises, including betting shops; the number and location of gaming machines and social responsibility measures to protect players from gambling-related harm.
Within the examination of the betting industry’s social responsibility requirements would be a review of gambling advertising “to understand whether we have the right measures in place to ensure that the young and vulnerable are protected”.
Concerns about gambling advertising before the 9pm watershed could affect televised horseracing.
In her foreword to the review, sports minister Tracey Crouch said: “In launching this review I am seeking to ensure that we have the right balance between a sector that can grow and contribute to the economy, and one that is socially responsible and doing all it can to protect consumers and communities, including those who are just about managing.
“This will include a close look at the issue of sub-category B2 gaming machines (more commonly known as Fixed Odds Betting Terminals – FOBTs) and specific concerns about the harm they cause, be that to the players themselves or the local communities in which they are located.
“I am interested in reviewing evidence across all types of gaming machines, looking at whether the stake and prize limits set out in legislation and the rules on where these machines can be played are right.
“I am also keen to receive evidence on the effectiveness of social responsibility measures across industry, including requirements around gambling advertising.”
ABB on board
Responding to the announcement, Association of British Bookmakers chief executive Malcolm George said: “We welcome an evidence-based review of the gambling industry. This is a broad review of the industry and we will be submitting detailed evidence on the elements relevant to high street betting shops and our six million customers.
“Since the last review in 2013, we have worked closely with the government and Gambling Commission to introduce and develop a range of new responsible gambling measures in betting shops.
“These include giving gaming machine players to ability to set a limit on the amount of money they spend or time they play for, no advertising of gaming machines, the first cross operator national self-exclusion scheme and the new £50 stake limits.
“We look forward to setting out the progress made on the responsible gambling agenda which we are continually developing.”