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News for Stop the FOBTs
Labour threatens to tax betting giants and ban advertising on football shirts

In August the party committed to supporting Culture Secretary in the fight over “crack cocaine” gambling, and September saw two big announcements on Labour’s planned moves against gambling firms.

At the beginning of the month it was reported on the BBC News, in The Independent and many more that Labour would ban football clubs from signing sponsorship deals with betting companies.

Later in the month, in a speech at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton, Tom Watson revealed plans to make betting firms pay a levy which would be used to fund treatment for gambling addicts.

The story was picked up by The Guardian, The Daily Mirror and BBC News.

Student gambling debts up to £10,000 according to Gambling Commission

As another academic year begins and students go off to university, it was revealed that some students have gambling debts of up to £10,000. Ben Haden of the Gambling Commission appeared on the Victoria Derbyshire to discuss the topic and voice concerns about the impact gambling has on undergraduates with a representative of the National Union of Students (NUS).

Meanwhile Matt Zarb-Cousin discussed his own struggles with gambling, as he spoke to a problem gambler about his addiction whilst at university in a feature for BBC News.

This story was picked up by the BBC News and the Victoria Derbyshire Show.

Government prepares clampdown on fixed-odds betting machines

Despite previous reports that Treasury may attempt to block a review into FOBT machines by the government, The Chancellor of the Exchequer this month has indicated that he will support the outcome of the review of high-stake gambling machines in betting shops, even if it reduces tax revenues.

Hammond was quoted as saying in a letter to the Bishop of St Albans, Alan Smith, who has been leading the opposition of FOBTs by the Church of England; “Both I and my department fully support DCMS’s work to ensure the UK’s gambling regime continues to balance the needs of vulnerable people, consumers who gamble responsibly, and those who work in this sector.”

This story was reported in The Daily Mail, Reuters, The Daily Mirror, and The Times.

Central Lobby round-up

As always, we have been hard at work writing on Politics Home Central Lobby to highlight the key issues currently being faced in the battle against FOBTs.

We discussed why we believe the 2005 Gambling Act is no longer fit for purpose following reports of online gambling firm 888 being handed a fine from the Gambling Commission for failing to uphold self-exclusion. The 2005 Gambling Act was from an analogue age, rather than the digital focussed age we now live in, and as a result is outdated.

In a month where the media focus on the fight against FOBTs seems to have intensified, we explained the changing dynamics of the FOBT and gambling media debate. Between the reports of Ladbrokes topping the British MP donation list, media appearances of the Campaign and reports on problem gambling there was much to discuss.

Discussions over the ASA upholding complaints about adverts by a remote gambling affiliate led us to consider the social responsibilities of affiliate marketing and how it is in breach of the 2005 Gambling Act. This was also debated in the House of Lords, raising many interesting questions on underage gambling, advertising and affiliates.

As the Gambling Commission finally began to speak out on the need for safer gambling products, we discussed the need for official research to identify which activities are the most dangerous. We also reflect and assess the recent developments around gambling, betting shops and FOBTs, including the stand of Tom Watson at the Labour Party Conference.

You can find a full round-up of all the stories we have penned for Politics Home Central Lobby by clicking here.

Gambling and FOBTs in the news

Paddy Power Betfair has broken ranks with the rest of the UK gambling industry by becoming the first big bookmaker to recommend heavy curbs on betting machines.

Reports of the amount of money lost to FOBTs in regional areas continued this month. Gamblers in South Ayrshire laid down £100 million on the machines last year, whilst £13 million was lost to the machines in South Lanarkshire and £75 million was gambled in Motherwell and Wishaw.

Campaign Spokesman Matt Zarb-Cousin had a busy month of media interviews discussing problem gambling, FOBTs and the campaign for a reduced maximum stake with the likes of BBC Radio 5 Live, talkRadio and Channel 4 News.

Ladbrokes has found itself under investigation in the last week over an allegation that staff watched a betting addict borrow hundreds of pounds in payday loans and lose it all on FOBTs at a Birmingham branch.

Lastly the month ended with a piece in the Financial Times on the duo behind the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, Derek Webb and Matt Zarb-Cousin, as the campaign is within striking distance of success.

For more news from the Campaign and the battle against FOBTs, please visit our News and Events page and be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

If you missed our August newsletter, be sure to catch up here.


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