New Study Slams U.K. Fixed Odds Betting Terminals

Tory MP urges the party to crack down on “high street sink holes”

With the release of a key government report on gambling imminent in the UK, a new study criticising fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) has been quoted by a Tory member of parliament, who says government needs to make the issue its own and crackdown on the machines.

The study, conducted by the Conservative Party think tank Respublica, claims that Britain is the only country in the developed world that allows gamblers such high bets on casino-like games situated in retail betting shops on high streets.

The report finds one in three problem gamblers earn GBP 10,400 a year or less, and calculates that under current regulations, it is possible for punters to bet their entire month’s income in three minutes.

The study also found that there are links between problem gambling and unemployment, household debt and the disruption of family relationships.

Amid a growing campaign against high FOBT bets, which are a key source of business income for bookmaking firms in the UK, British bookmaker trade representatives have pointed out that only a small percentage of punters play at maximum stakes, but the issue has become an emotive one with politicians, action groups and the media piling on the pressure for stake cuts.

Conservative Party MP Chris Philp is one politician who advocates a crackdown, telling the Daily Mail newspaper over the weekend that it was Labour Party legislation that led to the proliferation of high street FOBTs, but that controlling these machines is an issue in which the Conservative Party should be involved.

Philp backs the Respublica study, commenting in a foreword that the machines have the capacity to damage peoples’ lives, economic prosperity and communities. He urges government to back proposals that the level of maximum bets on the machines be drastically cut.