David Cameron to consider FOBT ban
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to take a “proper look” at whether high stakes, fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) should be banned from betting shops in the country.
The BBC reports Cameron's vow came in response to Labour MP Tom Watson, who voiced his concerns about the machines during Prime Minister's Questions. Watson described the machines as “addictive” and had transformed betting shops into “high street digital casinos”.
FOBTs allow punters to gamble up to £100 ($160/€117) every 20 seconds, with the machines accounting for almost half of major bookmakers’ annual profits despite each shop being limited to four terminals.
“I do think it is worth having a proper look at this issue, to see what we can do to make sure that, yes, we have bookmakers that are not over-regulated, but on the other hand, a fair approach and a decent approach that prevents problem gambling,” Cameron said.
Adrian Parkinson of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling said he did not hold out much hope of the government taking action before the 2015 general election.
“It was a pretty vague answer… but at least it's on his agenda,” Parkinson said. “Somebody needs to make a decision about what to do. These machines have been around for 10 or 11 years now.”
Cameron’s announcement comes shortly after the UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said it would take no action against FOBTs.
The Triennial Review from the DCMS did concede that FOBTs have a “high potential” of harming players, but said: “It is currently not clear how great an impact a reduction would have on gambling-related harm.”
However, the report did order gambling operators to introduce an option for players to set minimum wagering stakes and loss limits at the start of each gaming session.