Anti-FOBT Parliamentarian Group Has Knuckles Rapped For Unofficial Report

Will All Party Parliamentary Group chair, Labour MP Caroline Harris, apologise for “minor infringements” of UK parliamentary standards?

The seemingly biased views on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals in bookie retail shops of the unofficial All Party Parliamentary Group have in the view of some contributed to the media and political furore around the machines, but the APPG itself came under fire last week when its ‘report’ on FOBTs suggesting that maximum stakes be cut from GBP 100 to GBP 2 was criticised as being in breach of parliamentary standards.

Kathryn Hudson, who is the commissioner for parliamentary standards, gave instances in the report where breaches had occurred:

* It did not make clear that its report was not an official House of Commons publication;

* It lacked transparency regarding the free advice it has received from Interel, a PR company hired by gambling firms that do not offer FOBTs;

The APPG did not keep a record of attendance of keep acceptable minutes of its meetings.

It has long been a source of contention from the bookmaker trade body the Association of British Bookmakers that the APPG was too close to casino and amusement arcade rivals in their trade association Bacta (see previous InfoPowa reports).

However, Hudson concluded that the breaches were relatively minor, and could be addressed by an apology from the group and the correction of its errors.

ABB chief executive Malcolm George welcomed the parliamentary watchdog’s decision to censure the APPG, observing:

“This group of MPs are now revealed as serial offenders for their misleading report about gaming machines in betting shops. The MPs’ report has been exposed as a shambolic, shoddy and one-sided piece of work that has broken a long list of parliamentary rules.”