Bookmakers make official complaint over FOBT report

Bookmakers make official complaint over FOBT report

Wednesday, February 1, 2017 Posted by Andy McCarron
ABB has complained to Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

Britain’s bookmakers have lodged an official complaint with the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards over a “wilfully misleading” MPs report on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs).

The Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) said the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) had breached strict rules by failing to fully disclose who financed its report published yesterday.

Malcolm George, chief executive of the ABB which represents Britain’s leading bookmakers, accused the MPs of a “woeful lack of transparency” over the vested interests who bankrolled the Group. He has now written to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner over the “clear breaches” of the rules that govern APPGs and force them to reveal who funds them.

His demand for inquiry follows the publication of the MPs’ report which called for a £2 per spin maximum to be imposed on all FOBTs – a move that he says would threaten thousands of jobs at High Street bookmakers.

He argues that under the parliamentary rules governing APPGs: “Groups must be transparent about their nature, membership and funding. In particular, they must avoid presenting themselves in a way which could lead to confusion with Select Committees.”

The rules add: “If a report or other publication has been compiled or funded by an external individual or organisation, this should be made clear on the front cover (or equivalent - If it is an online publication) through wording such as: “This Report was researched by xxx and funded by xxx”.

The FOBTs All-Party Group has published two reports: the ‘FOBT APPG Interim report’ published on 6 Dec 2016 and the ‘Fixed Odds Betting Terminals Inquiry report’ on 31st January 2017. Neither of these reports complied with the rules which insist they must make clear on the front cover (or equivalent online publication) that the report has been compiled or funded by an external individual or organisation.

George added: "There has been a clear failure to follow the strict rules that govern All-Party Parliamentary Groups. This small group of MPs has exhibited a woeful lack of transparency over the vested interests like casinos and amusement arcades who bankrolled the Group. This has been a kangaroo court from the start.

“The MPs are in clear breach of the rules and I have written to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards over their one-sided and evidence-free report funded by our industry’s commercial rivals.

“Despite its flimsy conclusions, this wilfully misleading document gives the bogus veneer of an official and independent Parliamentary report and risks causing considerable damage to our industry and a negative impact on the shareholders of some of our members.”

Totally Gaming says: The ABB argues that more than 43,000 jobs are involved in the UK betting industry which contributes more than £1 billion a year in taxes to the Exchequer and that the measures suggested in the report will put that at risk. However the counter balance from the other industries, who it appears have funded the group, is that the competitive advantage over their sectors has cost them jobs already. It's a tangled political argument ahead of the triennial review in a couple of months.

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