Fixed-odd betting terminals: An open letter to David Burrowes MP
Posted on May 19, 2015

After reading a couple of newspaper articles suggesting that the new Culture Secretary might wish to relax the regulations concerning Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals in betting shops, I today sent him the following open letter.

Dear Mr Burrowes,

Could I start by congratulating you on your success in last week’s election.

I’m writing to you in response to recent newspaper reports which suggest that the newly appointed Culture Secretary, John Whittingdale, might wish to bring in legislation relaxing the limits on the number of fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) that are allowed in betting shops. The journalists are basing their reports on remarks made by Mr Whittingdale on various occasions since 2012, during the time when he was chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.

Read the full letter on Palmers Green Community online.


John Whittingdale’s appointment as Culture Secretary dismays gambling addiction charities
Posted on May 14, 2015

Betting addiction charities have reacted with dismay to the appointment of the “pro-gambling” John Whittingdale as David Cameron’s new Culture Secretary.

The appointment of a former political secretary to Margaret Thatcher – seen as a victory for Tory right-wingers who want more influence over the party leadership – is already proving divisive due to Mr Whittingdale’s views on the BBC and equal rights.

Read the full article in The Independent online.


Top Tory to push for more ‘crack cocaine’ gambling machines in motorway services and arcades
Posted on May 13, 2015

Culture secretary John Whittingdale has previously called for the fixed-odds terminals which allow bets of £100 every 20 seconds in be allowed in bingo halls.

Controversial ‘crack cocaine’ gambling machines could be rolled out to motorway services and amusement arcades by the new Tory culture secretary, campaigners warn.

The Mirror can reveal John Whittingdale has previously called for the highly-addictive casino machines to be allowed in more venues including bingo halls in a speech to gambling industry insiders.

Read the full article in The Daily Mirror online.


David Lammy: Give communities more power over betting shops and FOBTs
Posted on April 30, 2015

Labour London Mayoral contender and Tottenham candidate David Lammy writes about the proliferation of betting shops in his borough and across the UK.

Gambling used to be an event – a trip to the dogs with friends, or a Saturday night sat in front of the National Lottery. But easily accessible, high-stake fixed odds betting machines (FOBTs) have turned gambling into a daily habit, and led to an increase in gambling addiction across the country.

These machines, often described as the crack cocaine of gambling, are designed to encourage rapid and repetitive betting, allowing punters to gamble £100 every 20 seconds on games like Roulette – that’s five times quicker than in a casino. In my own borough, a staggering £485 million has already been gambled on FOBTs. Because these machines are largely unsupervised, much of this revenue will have come from vulnerable people such as those with gambling addictions. This is a direct transfer of money from the pockets of people in Haringey to the offshore accounts of big bookmakers. Much more needs to be done to prevent people gambling away their life savings in the space of an afternoon.


Gambling Behaviour Part One – it’s the product stupid!
Posted on April 29, 2015

Derek Webb, the founder & funder of Stop the FOBTs and the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, explains gambler and product interaction.

You’d probably be surprised to hear it, but there are even some professional gamblers who are also problem gamblers. Sounds impossible, but I must have met around 100 of them. And when I say “professional” I don’t mean someone who espouses their opinion of their gambling history. I mean someone who is known in their peer group to be successful and able to provide a living income solely from gambling.

They have to be gambling at an activity that is beatable. Most non-regulated gambling is beatable if you are stronger than your opponents, for example cash gambling at backgammon. In terms of regulated gambling, it is generally acknowledged that racing, sports, blackjack and poker are all beatable, given the right conditions and the right skills. Whilst there are unusual gamblers who have exhibited unusual skills at certain other gambling activities, they are unusual exceptions.

In respect of race and sports betting, it is getting harder to be a professional in Britain. Legal opportunities to get cash on are diminishing as betting offices routinely refuse even suspected break-even gamblers. Also remote online sites close accounts or restrict bet amounts. Blackjack is becoming harder as casinos have learnt much more about the skill techniques and more shuffling machines are being used to diminish skill opportunities. Poker is still a viable beatable activity.

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