ABB boycott of Commons meeting deemed a “missed opportunity”

By Caroline Watson
UK Minister for Culture, Media & Sports Tracey Crouch has expressed her surprise at the Association of British Bookmakers boycott of last week’s “Commons All Party Group on Fixed-odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs)”.

The Commons meeting was arranged to discuss the current UK regulatory provisions for FOBTS, with further plans to restrict TV advertising for gambling and sports betting services and products.

The review came after the fixed-odds machines were deemed as gambling’s “crack cocaine”. Campaigners have long called for the maximum stakes on these gaming machines to be reduced from £100 to £2.

Crouch claims the industry body has “missed an opportunity” to state its concerns regarding changes to UK gambling legislation. Her concerns were also backed by UK Gambling Commission Chief Executive, Sarah Harrison and Labour MP Carolyn Harris, who chairs the committee.

Crouch explains the aim of the review is to look closely “at the issue of sub-category B2 gaming machines and specific concerns about the harm they cause, be that to the players themselves or the local communities in which they are located”.

The ABB responded saying: “We see no value in providing evidence to a group when the outcome of its inquiry has been pre-determined and it operates as little more than a kangaroo court.

“The All Party Group is a club of anti-betting shop MPs, funded by amusement arcades and casinos with commercial interest in attacking betting shops.”

Bookmakers accepted and even welcomed the review of the machines. Nonetheless, Malcolm George of the ABB says: “It’s very easy for the anti-gambling lobby to make strong false claims about the industry.”

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