Tom Blenkinsop MP today (4th December 2013) backed calls for the Government’s recommendations on gaming machine stakes and prizes to include restrictions on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), the roulette machines in betting shops that have been described as ‘the crack cocaine of gambling’.
FOBTs are high-speed, high-stake casino gaming machines recently banned in Ireland due to concerns about their addictive characteristics. They are available in betting shops on every British high street with spins of £100 every 20 seconds. The addictive roulette machines have led to betting shops clustering on the high street.
There have been multiple reports of FOBTs causing crime, and last year, there were an average of 165 incidents a week in betting shops requiring police assistance.
Last week the Labour Party blocked the automatic passage of a Government consultation which would keep the highly contentious machines at £100 per spin maximum stake. Now a swell of support led by Labour MP, Tom Watson, has gathered to urge the Government to place sensible restrictions on FOBTs.
“The Government had the chance to reduce the maximum stake on FOBTs to £2 and has once again tried to kick the issue into the long grass. They ignored the evidence available, choosing to maintain the £100 max stake and £500 max prize available on FOBTs.
“FOBTs are arguably in breach of all three licensing objectives of the 2005 Gambling Act: they are not fair and open, they are associated with crime and disorder and they harm young and vulnerable people.
“Our high street is not the place for high-speed, high-stakes casino gaming. These machines have been multiplying for over ten years with increasing concerns about their dangers. It can’t go on any longer and I will support any move that leads to the Government taking immediate action on this issue.”