MPs seek assurances over gaming terminals as Parliamentary debate heats up

MPs seek assurances over gaming terminals as Parliamentary debate heats up

Friday, November 3, 2017 Posted by Joseph Streeter
The releasing of the report will usher in a 12 week period of consultation

The backlash of this week’s long awaited triennial review of gaming machines stakes and prizes reverberated through Parliament on Tuesday, as the issue was debated prudently amongst MPs.

Following the releasing of the report by the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), a 12 week period of consultation will commence, something that the Conservative MP for Wellinborough, Peter Bone described as ‘really sensible.’

Addressing Parliament this week, he added: “What worries me is that if we make the wrong decision, we may make the situation worse by driving problem gamblers out of betting shops, which are a controlled environment, and towards online gambling. The consultation is right, but we should look at that issue as part of it.”

Crouch replied by underlining the protections that are in place for online operators, she said: “Online gambling has, in many respects, a better opportunity to protect players, because sites have all the details of players’ practices.

“Obviously, as part of the consultation, we are going to look at how we can protect online gamblers, but we definitely have more opportunity to do that than we do to protect somebody going in and out of different bookmakers.”

Also debated was the potential effects that any regulations on gaming terminals could have on the horse racing industry, Labour MP for ST Helens and  co-chair of the all-party group on racing and bloodstock industries Conor McGinn was keen to make Crouch aware that “horse-racing relies heavily on the levy from bookmakers and on advertising, sponsorship and media rights.”

He went onto seek assurances that ‘while protecting those who are vulnerable to gambling addiction, which we all want to do, we protect the jobs, investment and economic benefits that come from racecourses up and down the country.’

The case for protecting the sport of horse racing was enhanced by the Conservative MP for Tewkesbury Laurence Robertson, who is the other co-chair of the all-party group on racing and bloodstock industries, he stated: I am a little bit concerned by the Minister’s suggestion that bookmakers might be able to transfer bets to racing from FOBTs.”

“I do not think there is any evidence that that would happen, although I very much hope that it would. I stress the importance to horse-racing of the support of bookmakers. That is not unique to the United Kingdom; it is the same across the world. When the Minister takes her decision, will she consult fully with all strands of horse-racing.”

In response Crouch underline that there is “no intention to damage the horse racing industry”, even stating that the issue of FOBTs may well be driving punters away from bookmakers and damaging horse racing already.

Totally Gaming says: Clearly, the issue and debate over future regulations is a delicate one and can’t be concluded simply, there are numerous parties and consequences that need to be taken into account. Therefore, the period of consultation is very much needed, as a time to clearly analyse what the best future steps are, for both safeguarding against problem gambling and protecting the industries involved.

 
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