The rise of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals is incredibly worrying. The high-stakes, high-speed nature of gambling on these machines can have destructive consequences for gambling addicts and the shops themselves can be a blight on our high streets.
Fixed Odds Betting Terminals are touch screen electronic gaming machines found in betting shops across the United Kingdom. They include casino games like Roulette, Poker and Black Jack but, unlike other similar gaming machines, the maximum stake is £100 rather than £2. For players, it’s possible to bet up to £100 per spin every 20 seconds.
The number of these machines has risen rapidly over the last decade, especially in some of the most deprived areas of our country. In 2014, one in three calls to the national gambling helpline Gamcare were regarding addiction to Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, and research by the Responsible Gaming Trust showed that more than a third of those using Fixed Odds Betting Terminals reported a gambling problem.
The Government moved in April 2015 to ensure that those playing high-stakes games (over £50) had to have a betting account or load cash over a counter. This does not go far enough, I believe that local authorities should have the ability to review the number of these machines in their area and the harm that they are causing, and the power to act on the findings.
I am a founding member of the new All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, created in April this year. We are undertaking an inquiry into the impact of these machines on individuals and communities. We will be hearing from addicts, betting shops and gambling addiction charities to make recommendations about the kind of legislation we need.
For more information on the dangers of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, see the Campaign for Fairer Gambling website.
If you know of anyone with a problem addiction to Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, I would recommend contacting Gamcare via their website or call them on 0808 8020 133.
4 July 2016