Bookies return fire on arcades over problem gambling

Bookies return fire on arcades over problem gambling

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The lobbying war between bookmakers and other gaming machine operators has taken another turn, with the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) pointing both barrels at the UK’s arcade operators.

The ABB argues that data released by the Gambling Commission shows that gamblers are at ‘greater risk of losing more money and playing for a longer time’ on gaming machines in arcades than on the controversial Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) in betting shops.

The research suggested that the percentage of sessions on gaming machines lasting longer than two hours were 67% higher in arcades than in betting shops, and that amusement arcade gaming machines returned less money to players.

The ABB said: “It is time the amusement arcade industry cleaned up its act and got its house in order. Arcade owners should be doing far more to support responsible gambling.

“This research from the Gambling Commission clearly shows that people can lose more money, more quickly in an amusement arcade than a betting shop.”

The claim is the latest broadside from the betting industry which has come out fighting after a recent report by an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the subject of FOBTs recommended that the maximum stakes on the machines should be reduced from £100 to £2.

The ABB likened the APPG’s research to a kangaroo court and pointed out that group was funded by organisations which would benefit from less competitive FOBTs, something that the group failed to disclose in its findings. The ABB has since made an official complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

ABB Chief executive Malcolm George said: “This independent report confirms there is no relationship between machines in bookmakers and problem gambling. The evidence exposes the findings of the FOBTs All-Party Parliamentary Group are simply wrong.

“The report sets out clear evidence that shows losses are higher in adult gaming centres than betting shops, and that the largest losses occur early in the morning on machines in arcades. No wonder the vested interests who are behind the campaign against FOBTs wanted to distract attention from their own machines. It is time they stopped just making it up as they go along.”

The trade association added: “In a betting shop, gaming machine players are able to set their own limits on what they spend or time they play for, and they are supervised by a highly trained staff – staff who can spot and help people getting into difficulty.

“Unlike arcades, we do not advertise gaming machines in our windows, and the machines themselves have screens with responsible gambling information and details of how to get help.

“It is clearer than ever that betting shops continue to provide the safest place to gamble, and it is about time other gambling institutions upped their game.”

Totally Gaming says: Other gaming machine operators such as arcades and bingo halls have continually complained about the unlevel playing field that betting shops enjoy thanks to the higher staking levels on B2 Gaming Machines (FOBTs). However, things have exploded in the past six months with the triennial stakes and prizes review being conducted by the government throwing the different gambling sectors in an us v them battle. Given the frequent calls for the gambling industry to speak with ‘one voice’ when lobbying government, there is a real danger that this internecine debate will not end well for anyone.

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