United Kingdom Government To Clamp Down on FOBTs

Government To Begin Crackdown on the Infamous FOBTs

It seems that the government is seriously planning to clamp down on the FOBTs (Fixed Odds Betting Terminals), by decreasing their maximum bet, which currently sits at 100 pounds. People refer to the gambling machines as the crack cocaine of the gambling world. On the other hand, the exact extent of the clampdown is not yet known. The plans of the government were evident in a letter that was from Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, to St Alban's’ Bishop.

The bishop has been the leading force that pushed the Church of England to criticize the use of these machines by the gambling industry. The English Church sees that the FOBTs have dangerous effects on many of the people who place bets on them and that it has been the main reason for a great rise in the tide of violence in numerous communities. Dr. Alan Smith, the St Albans’ Bishop, has been seeking assurances from the UK Chancellor that the long-awaited review by the government regarding these machines would see the light this autumn.

St Albans’ Bishop Intervention in the Matter

The intervention of the Bishop came following sources showed that the treasury was afraid of cutting the stakes, which is certainly a measure that the sports minister Tracey Crouch appreciates.  The action might prove to be financially crippling, and the minister wanted to scrap the review. Responding to the bishop, the Chancellor stressed the point that the study is proceeding, and started to diminish the fears that the ministry of Treasury was in a conflict with the DCMS regarding the issue of tacking gambling problems.

According to Chancellor Hammond, Recent reports from the media regarding the current status of the expected review of these machines and the different social responsibility measures are all foundationless. He also added that he and his department are completely behind the work of the DCMS that will ensure that the gambling regime of the UK remains the balance between the people who work in the gaming sector, and the needs of the vulnerable people as well as the players that are responsible gamblers. The Chancellor also added that he appreciates the concerns of the bishop about the harm that comes from gambling, and that he values the work of the church in that matter.

Charity Organizations Aim to Cut Stakes Down to £2

The charities that are against gambling addiction wish to reduce the stakes on the touch-screen roulette gaming machines to £2. Such cut down in the stake has reached a level that is getting massive resistance from the Treasury. At the current situation, the players can play these casino games with a stake that can reach up to £100, and they can place that stake once every twenty seconds. As a result of that, in extreme situations, players can game up to £18000 in one single hour. It seems that the agreement on the stake still has a long way to go and that it is still in its negotiation phase.

The government review of these machines was going to see the light in the summer, but now, it will not be released until October at least. On the other hand, such delay is perceived to be a positive thing for many of those who are campaigning against these FOBTs. They think that the long time that the consultation is taking confirms that the UK government is preparing and considering to take action. The lawyers of the government are always keen to dismiss any accusation that they rushed while doing the review, which means that the Review and its new measures might be subject to a legal challenge from the betting industry.

The Bishop Warns of the Dangers of These Terminals

However, in the interim, the bishop was warning that people were left to blow significant amounts of cash thinking that it will solve everything. According to a request that the Bishop submitted regarding freedom of information to the Metropolitan police, it showed that since 2010, there is an increase of 68% in a violent criminal activity that related to the gambling shops in the English capital. The bishop stated that he has a lot of concern regarding the customers who lost significant amounts of money and had to resort to violence out of their frustration and their anger.

The Bishop Talks About Criminal Activity Surrounding Betting Terminals

Dr. Alan Smith stated that it is clear that there are different hotspots for violence surrounding the gambling premises. He also added that one of the things that worry him is that there are people that work all alone in these shops, which makes them vulnerable. He added that it is scary to be all alone with someone who is angry because he lost all of his money. Studies show that 14% of sixteen to 24-year-old men place bets on these FOBTs.  Players lose a total of 1.8 billion pounds on these machines every single year.

He added that this is not a fringe thing, and this has a disastrous effect on many groups, and this includes the children, the spouses, and their partners. In many cases, people can even lose their properties and their relationships can be ruined and can even break down. It is just like hard drugs, and it can break down families, that children can even go without food, because of the gambling addiction.

The Dangerous Effects of Gambling on The Society

During the General Synod of the English Church, there was evidence that showed that 2/3 of the calls to the main problem gambling charity in the country GamCare, were from customers of bookmakers. It also pointed that more than half of these players cited that the FOBTs are the primary source of their problem. One in every eight players uses payday loans so they can keep placing bets on these FOBTs.

The bishop added that in the end, everyone is paying for this. The bishop also added that this particular type of gambling is problematic and can cause a lot of damage to individuals as well as local communities and families. The society must take care of this, and work to minimize the damage that this can cause. He added that since he began looking into the matter, the bishop was inundated with the stories that he heard from people, which made him realize how tragic the situation is.

Going along the same line the industry has been under fire because of its failure to protect the vulnerable customers. 888 Holdings had to pay a record penalty of 8 million pounds because it failed to do so.