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British bookmakers hit back at parliamentary report on FOBTs

Brit

marktami
ain’s bookmakers have reacted angrily to a report from the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBT) All Party Parliamentary Group, calling for a £2 stake limit on fixed-odds betting terminals, previously referred to as the “crack cocaine of gambling”.

The Association of British Bookmakers are demanding an urgent inquiry into the report, saying it is a “deeply flawed report”, funded by people that would “directly benefit if its recommendations are ever implemented”.

The current maximum stake for gambling on the electronic terminals is £100, with the report stating that this figure should be slashed dramatically. Moreover, it has made further recommendations on their use, including limits on the number of machines per shop.

Ahead of the report CEO of the Association of British Bookmakers, Malcolm George comments: “The report is the view of a tiny group of anti-betting shop MPs. This group has been financed by those with interests in the casino, arcade and pub industries.

“We strongly believe that the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards should urgently investigate this All-Party Parliamentary Group. This group of MPs has operated in secrecy, provided no transcripts of the evidence given to their meeting and operated throughout behind closed doors away from public scrutiny.

George added that the number of betting shops that close each year is over 1000 and that this report could see the beginning of the end for the High Street bookmaking industry.

“Britain’s bookmakers employ more than 43,000 staff and contribute over £1bn a year in taxes. But, betting shops are already closing at the rate of more than 100 a year and if the findings of this rigged report are implemented, it could spell the beginning of the end for the High Street bookmaker.”

Carolyn Harris MP, Chairwoman of the parliamentary group has dismissed the attack from the ABB, adding: “There is now a clear case for the government to substantially reduce the maximum stake which can be played on FOBTs.

“These machines are easily accessed in the most deprived areas, sucking money out of the pockets of families. I support a responsible gambling industry, but there is nothing responsible about how FOBTS are currently being operated.”

Mark Tami MP also voted against proposal to retain the maximum stakes and prizes for FOBTS, adding: “These machines are causing major problems in our high streets and I believe the Government has a responsibility to act on this issue.”

In November last year, the ABB boycotted a Commons meeting that was arranged to discuss the current UK regulatory provisions for FOBTS. Crouch deemed this as a “missed opportunity” for the group to state its concerns regarding changes to the legislation.

However, the ABB said: “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.”

Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham echoed Harris’ pleas, adding: “The gambling industry has consistently ignored our pleas to stop blighting our high streets with the clustering of betting shops, which bring anti-social behaviour and crime to the heart of our communities.”

Although bookmakers accepted and even welcomed the review of the machines, George added: “It’s very easy for the anti-gambling lobby to make strong false claims about the industry.”
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