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British government to review fixed odds betting machines

Tue, Oct 25, 9:52am by Staff Writer

The British government has announced it will conduct a review into gambling regulation, with fixed odds betting terminals and the proliferation of sports advertising set to come under special scrutiny.

British Sports and Gambling minister Tracey Crouch said the review would focus on finding a responsible balance between growth in the gambling sector and minimising harm from that growth within the community.

“In launching this review I am seeking to ensure that we have the right balance between a sector that can grow and contribute to the economy, and one that is socially responsible and doing all it can to protect consumers and communities, including those who are just about managing,” Minister Crouch said.

“This will include a close look at the issue of sub-category B2 gaming machines (more commonly known as Fixed Odds Betting Terminals – FOBTs) and specific concerns about the harm they cause, be that to the players themselves or the local communities in which they are located.”

“I am interested in reviewing evidence across all types of gaming machines, looking at whether the stake and prize limits set out in legislation and the rules on where these machines can be played are right.

“I am also keen to receive evidence on the effectiveness of social responsibility measures across industry, including requirements around gambling advertising.”

The number of FOBTs has exploded in betting shops around the UK in recent years, prompting a similar review in 2013. Little emerged from that review but it appears the sector is set for major regulation overhaul under the leadership of new Prime Minister Theresa May.

Gambling advertising is also set to come under the spotlight after Culture Secretary Karen Bradley recently voiced her concerns about the frequency of betting adverts on television.

“I know my children can recite just about every gambling advert that there is,” she told a parliamentary committee. “I am interested as a parent and I’m also interested as a secretary of state in understanding what the impacts are on young people of that advertising.”

Association of British Bookmakers chief executive Malcolm George said it supported the review, which would take place after evidence is sought ahead of a December 4 deadline.

“We welcome an evidence-based review of the gambling industry. This is a broad review of the industry and we will be submitting detailed evidence on the elements relevant to high street betting shops and our six million customers,” he said in a statement.

“Since the last review in 2013, we have worked closely with the government and Gambling Commission to introduce and develop a range of new responsible gambling measures in betting shops.”

“These include giving gaming machine players to ability to set a limit on the amount of money they spend or time they play for, no advertising of gaming machines, the first cross operator national self-exclusion scheme and the new £50 stake limits.”

“We look forward to setting out the progress made on the responsible gambling agenda which we are continually developing.”

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