FOBTs in the News: 28th February – 6th March 2015Print this page
The Campaign was given a boost this week, as Scottish Labour Leader Jim Murphy MP announced his support for the Stop The FOBTs campaign. In his statement Murphy said that it is “completely unacceptable that people can lose an entire week’s wages in a few minutes with these machines.” This was further reported by the Daily Record online and iGaming Business.
Meanwhile, the current Scottish Government has been accused of failing to protect people – as further shops open despite Ministers’ pledges to crackdown on FOBTs. The importance of preventing harm and FOBT addiction was emphasised in the news piece that stated how a Montrose gambler stole £240 from his employer’s cashbox to fuel his addiction to the roulette wheel. This is further emphasised by the emerging figures that Britons are blowing £1.7 billion a year on fixed-odds betting machines.
This week the Campaign for Fairer Gambling also honed in on protecting deprived areas and areas with high density immigration, with calls for an end to bookmakers opening betting shops in deprived areas, targeting areas of high unemployment with a high ethnic mix. Latest research from the Campaign revealed that twice as many betting shops operated in the 55 most deprived local authorities compared to more affluent areas. Shockingly, the research also showed that 61% of Paddy Power’s 327 UK betting shops were located in high density immigrant areas such as Newham and Brent in London.
It has also been a significant week for Northern Ireland, after research conducted by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling highlighted FOBT issues in the Province for the first time. Northern Ireland currently has a total of 900 FOBT machines in approximately 250 betting shops, with Northern Ireland’s Department of Social Development appointed to review the nation’s current gambling legislation and framework. Also in Northern Ireland, Campaign consultant Matt Zarb-Cousin submitted a letter to the Belfast Telegraph calling for addictive gambling terminals to be curtailed – the letter was published in response to an opinion piece written by Fionola Meredith.
Also this week, the House of Lords debated the maximum stake on FOBTs.
Local residents, Karen Buck MP and Labour Councillors of Westminster City Council are protesting tomorrow against Betfred’s plans to take over the Prince of Wales pub on Harrow Road. Karen Buck MP stated: “Four betting shops in a short stretch of road, and two more close by, is an unacceptable concentration. We need a proper balance of shops and facilities in the Harrow Road in the interests of a safe, thriving local community.”