War against FOBTs intensifies in the UK

MPs support campaign against betting machines dubbed “the crack cocaine of gambling.”

A cross-party group sent a letter to the Culture Secretary calling for a reduction in betting amounts to protect “the young and vulnerable.”

UK.- A powerful group of cross-party MPs has supported the Sunday People ’s campaign against fixed odds betting machines (FOBTs). The group has written to the Culture Secretary calling for a reduction in betting amounts to protect “the young and vulnerable.”

The new All Party group on FOBTs, set up to investigate the effects of the machines, had its first meeting the past week after which they  pledged to make sure the public knows the truth about the terrible toll the machines take on gamblers.

“This is not about gambling. We’re by no means anti-gambling. We’ve all grown up having the odd flutter on the Grand National but these machines are different,” said Carolyn Harris, the group Chairman. “They are dangerous. Cocaine is dangerous so action is taken against it.We want to understand why nothing being done about these machines?”

The group will hold its first formal hearing at the beginning of July, where it will show evidence from the Campaign for Fairer Gambling as well as academic reports on the psychological effects of FOBTs. They have already sent a letter signed by members of all parties to Culture Secretary John Whittingdale, outlining their concerns and asking for a reduction in bets on FOBTs to £2.

The letter reads: “Colleagues in both Houses made clear our concern about their impact on the young and vulnerable. Many have reported the tragic impact FOBTs are having on their lives. These machines are highly dangerous products, acting as a catalyst for problem gambling, social breakdown and serious crime in communities. It is estimated that 7,000 FOBT machines are smashed and there are 10,000 policy call outs to bookmakers as a result of FOBT related violence every year.”