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News for Stop the FOBTs
Northern Ireland bookie arrested in gambling law probe

In November, Campaign founder Derek Webb travelled to Northern Ireland to speak as an expert on FOBTs in a BBC Northern Ireland Spotlight investigation into FOBTs and their impact in the area.

As the presenter investigated the impact of FOBTs have had on the area, Derek was on hand to explain the reason the machines are so addictive, and why the maximum stakes per spin should be slashed to £2. During the programme, Spotlight disclosed a letter from the NI Attorney General to a senior politician declaring an opinion of the illegality of FOBTs in Northern Ireland. 

This was quickly succeeded by the news that a Northern Ireland bookie had been arrested as part of a police investigation into whether the machines breach gambling laws. Despite the Gambling Act 2005 being introducted in the UK, the last law introduced in Northern Ireland in 1985 states that gaming machines should have a maximum stake of 30p, with an upward winning limit of £8.

This story was picked up by BBC Northern Ireland, The Irish News and Derry Now.

You can watch the Spotlight investigation on BBC iPlayer until December 20th.

More gamblers 'self-excluding' as online betting grows

Amid a rise in online betting and reports that almost £4.7bn was bet online in 2016-17, the number of gamblers opting to self-excluse themselves from betting has risen. According to online operators, over one million requests came in from customers asking to close their accounts last year. This figure is almost double the previous year's figures.

The news comes as operators are preparing to offer a scheme which will offer gamblers the ability to opt out from all forms of betting. From spring 2018, gamblers will be able to exclude themselves from all online gaming sites by registering with a single website. This differs from the current situation where gamblers must contact each individual retailer to close down their accounts and self-exclude.

This story was picked up by the BBC.

Help StopTheFOBTs - submit your evidence to the consultation

On 31st October, the government published a consultation that covers proposals to:

  • Maximum stakes and prizes for all categories of gaming machines permitted under the Gambling Act 2005.
  • Social responsiblity measures for the industry as a whole to minimise the risk of gambling-related harm, including on gambling advetising, online gambling , gaming machines and research, education and treatment.

We are now well into the 12-week consultation period which will run until 23rd January, following which the government will consider its final proposal on gambling measures, including the maximum FOBT stake.

The Campaign objective is to reduce the maximum FOBT stakes from £100 to £2 per spin. You can help us achieve this objective by submitting evidence to the government for examination in the consultation. 

Both organisations and individuals are able to submit evidence for examination online. You can do this by:

Central Lobby round-up

As always, we have been working away writing on Politics Home Central Lobby to highlight the key issues in the battle against FOBTs.

Following the publication of the government's gambling review, a debate of around an hour took place on Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility following an Urgent Question from Tom Watson MP. We looked at the debate in depth after Gambling Minister Tracey Crouch MP did an excellent job of presenting the government position and encouraging participation in the new consultation.

We examined the current industry-friendly system for commissioning gambling research, which allows bookmakers and gambling operators to contribute voluntarily to GambleAware. The Campaign's perspective is that the bookies have been able to influence the research agenda thanks to this structure. 

It is difficult for DCMS to argue both that gambling advertising is not causing a harmful effect, and also that responsible gambling advertising will be effective in reducing harm. With online gambling making the headlines again this month, we re-visited the discussion surrounding possible measures around online gambling and advertising.

Later in November we produced a round-up report, including the latest action from the APPG on FOBTs and the discussion surrounding the legality (or lack thereof) of FOBTs in Northern Ireland. As well as this, we looked at the refusal of the ABB to appear before the APPG group to answer questions on a KPMG report, which should have been made available for public scrutiny. 

Following their recent "Raising Standards Conference", the Gambling Commission has generated a three-year strategy to raise standards in several areas. We looked in depth at this strategy and gave our expert opinion and recommendations.

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

Following the launch of a new consultation period by the government at the end of October, there has been an influx of stories about problem and ex-gamblers, and the way their gambling has affected their lives.

The story of a Norwich man who ended up living in a shed as a result of losses of over £350,000 in 10 years caused Norwich City Council to back the Campaign objective of a £2 maximum stake. The council is also seeking extra powers which would enable them to limit the number of new betting shops that are granted in the area, as well as to revoke or reduce existing licences.

A retired bus driver in Devon looted her ex-partner's bank account to help fund her addiction to FOBTs. Meanwhile, a former gambling addict from Millon spoke out about how gambling addiction ruins lives after blowing a six-figure sum.

As well as problem and ex-gamblers speaking out this month, a number of MPs have spoke about gambling issues. On the Isle of Wight, Bob Seely MP has spoken out in support of lowering the maximum stakes, and in Wales Carolyn Harris MP continues to campaign for the £2 maximum stake.

Bristol MP Darren Jones this month voiced his fears that students in the area could be ruining their lives by racking up huge debts after hearing how one undergraduate in the area lost £4,000 in one day. 

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 October newsletter, be sure to catch up here.


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