Meetings & Information


Thursday, January 22, 2015

‘Stop the FOBTs’ campaign

£82m blown on betting in Inverclyde

Published: 21 Jan 2015 11:00
A STAGGERING £82 million was frittered away by people in Inverclyde on betting shop roulette machines in just a year, the Tele can reveal.
Adrian Parkinson, from the Campaign for Fairer Gambling.
Alarming figures from the Campaign for Fairer Gambling group show the astonishing amount of cash gambled on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) in the space of just 12 months.

Worryingly, the sum is around £5m higher than this time last year.

Back then, the amount gambled by locals on FOBTs was estimated to be £77m.

The latest figures are based on information from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Gambling Commission and they cover the period up to September 2014.

Data from the pressure group, which runs the ‘Stop the FOBTs’ campaign, also highlighted a rise in the number of betting licences in Inverclyde — up by one to a total of 20.

They estimate there are now 74 FOBTs across the district, an increase of five from last year.

It all comes despite a high-profile campaign — backed by politicians and various groups — calling for greater restrictions on FOBTs.

Campaigners have expressed disappointment at the sky-high figures and claim that bookmakers are exploiting deprived areas.

Adrian Parkinson, from the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, told the Tele: “Again we are seeing continued growth in FOBT losses in Inverclyde and across the most deprived boroughs in Scotland.

“Despite being ranked the second most deprived borough in Scotland, Inverclyde appears to be very attractive to the betting industry, who have opened yet another shop in the last 12 months.

“The bookmakers claim they don’t target deprived areas.

“The evidence however speaks for itself.”

The group says over £15m was inserted into FOBTs by punters in Inverclyde, who lost nearly £3m.

Currently £100 can be bet per spin every 20 seconds on FOBTs, dubbed the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’.

Gambling is a matter currently reserved to the UK parliament but the Smith Commission, set up in the wake of the independence referendum to decide on additional powers for Scotland, called for the Scottish Parliament to have the power to ‘prevent the proliferation’ of FOBTs.

Mr Parkinson says that an urgent clampdown is required on the machines.

He told the Telegraph: “Fixed odds terminals have not earned the title ‘crack cocaine of gambling’ without reason.

“Recently published research showed that a third of those who play the machines regularly are experiencing problematic gambling.

“In Inverclyde, our analysis estimates there are 2,751 regular FOBT players which according to this research implies that over 900 of them could be in the depths of FOBT-driven gambling addiction.

“That’s 900 people with families and colleagues potentially impacted by the devastation that gambling addiction brings with it.

“FOBTs have now become the most lucrative gaming product on UK high streets and that is driven by their addictive characteristics — amusement arcades are now converting to betting shops in a bid to get their hands on FOBTs. There are eight adult gaming arcades in Inverclyde and one of those is owned by a company that has already converted an arcade in Newcastle into a betting shop — Luxury Leisure in West Blackhall Street.

“If the transfer of powers over FOBTs to Holyrood does not provide the Scottish Government with the power to cut the stakes then Scotland and Inverclyde will be powerless to curb the further proliferation of these high addictive machines.

“Our campaign continues until FOBT stakes are brought in line with all other gaming machines and the stakes are cut from £100 per spin to £2.”


No comments: