Fixed-odds betting machines 'concerning', say ministers

 
Fixed odds betting terminal Bookmakers say few people play for high stakes

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Ministers have said the growth of high-stakes roulette machines on the High Street is "concerning" and they do not rule out action to restrict them.

Culture Minister Helen Grant told MPs their future was "unresolved" and bookmakers must take immediate action to increase protection for players.

People can wager £100 every 20 seconds on fixed-odds betting terminals.

Labour said they were "an example of David Cameron's Britain" and councils should have new powers to curb them.

But following a Commons debate, Labour's call for local authorities to be given new powers to restrict the growth of the machines was defeated by 314 to 232 votes.

There are more than 33,000 fixed-odds betting terminals in the UK.

'Debt and misery'

The last Labour government relaxed the gambling laws, allowing bookmakers to start installing them.

Fixed odds betting terminals

  • Fixed odds betting terminals were launched in 1999 after then chancellor Gordon Brown scrapped tax on individual bets in favour of taxing bookmakers' profits
  • High stakes casino-style gambling is banned from High Streets but fixed odds betting terminals used remote servers so that the gaming was not taking place on the premises
  • After the 2005 Gambling Act, fixed odds betting terminals were given legal backing and put under the same regulatory framework as fruit machines
  • They stopped using remote servers but stakes were limited to £100 and terminals to four per betting shop
  • Punters can place a £100 stake every 20 seconds
  • According to the Gambling Commission there are 33,284 fixed-odds betting terminals across the UK
  • The average weekly profit per fixed odds betting terminals in 2012 was £825, up from £760 in 2011, according to the Gambling Commission
  • The number of betting shops in the UK increased from 8,862 in 2009 to 9,031 in 2013. The big three operators have plans to open hundreds of new shops although many independent operators have closed

But the party has accused the gambling industry of exploiting those changes to target poorer parts of the country,

It says fixed-odds betting terminals are acting as a magnet for crime and anti-social behaviour and local authorities should be given new powers to deal with "clusters" of shops opening together.

They would also review the number of high-speed, high-stakes fixed-odds betting terminals allowed on bookmakers' premises and would take steps to make the machines less addictive by requiring pop-ups and breaks in play.

Shadow culture minister Clive Efford said the last government had always maintained the machines should be kept under review.

The "world had changed" since they were first licensed, he said, with the online gambling industry now worth more than £2bn.

"These machines are an example of Cameron's Britain - one rule for constituents and another for big business which operate the betting shops," he said.

Another Labour MP, Brian Donohue, said fixed-odds betting terminals had been "likened to cocaine" as they were "absolutely and totally addictive".

Ministers insist that local authorities can already reject applications for new gambling premises and review existing licences.

But Ms Grant acknowledged the growth of the machines was "concerning" and she expected the industry to introduce voluntary player protection measures, such as suspensions in play and automatic alerts when stakes hit a certain level, by March.

She said the government was waiting for the findings of a study into "how [the machines] are used and the real impact on players" before deciding what further action may be needed.

Ed Miliband outside a bookmakers in north London last month Ed Miliband says bookmakers are targeting disadvantaged communities

"There is no green light for these machines. Their future is unresolved pending the research we have started," she told MPs.

Labour, she added, had liberalised gambling laws and accused them of "rank hypocrisy, total cynicism and outright opportunism".

"Labour bought these machines into being and they have the audacity to bring forward a motion blaming the government for any harm caused," she said.

'Working class pursuit'

The gambling industry insists it does not target deprived areas and has introduced a code of conduct for player protection and responsible gaming.

"Betting is a pursuit enjoyed by millions of working class people throughout Britain and we seek to reach the widest audience possible by being present on High Streets," the Association of British Bookmakers said.

"We accept there are concerns about these gaming machines and are always open to a constructive dialogue with politicians about the appropriate powers for local authorities."

It added: "The claims of widespread problem gambling on machines is just not supported by evidence. The industry continues to develop its approach to harm mitigation for the small number of gamblers who do experience problems."

MPs have previously rejected calls from Labour to reduce the maximum stake from £100 to £2 and to cut the top prize from the current £500.

 

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  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 154.

    149 Sally...

    Camelots licence is another issue altogether. How can the licence repeatedly be awarded to a commercial for profit organisation when non-profit organisations have applied to run it (& failed)?

    Also how can a 3rd 10 year licence be awarded in 2009 with and option to extend for a further 5 years when profits go to Canada?

    I think how these licences are awarded should be looked at.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 153.

    Of all the things wrong in this country today, Labour is talking about betting odds. Says it all really.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 152.

    123BillyB and Sally

    I think Sally is right on this one. The licence was granted for a set period of years and can be issued to another operator when is due for renewal. That looks like ownership.

    I don't know if the bandwidth licences are time-limited. If so the goverment owns the badwith but not the company that is leasing it.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 151.

    Also they need to ban all Bingo gambling sites being advertised, and operating on TV.

    They appeal to housewives who want to make a fast "buck" and of course you never will win.

    Also there are so called "Instant Wins" on the National Lottery site - just there to tempt people and of course, no one ever wins anything of worth and the odds are that all you win back is your stake - hardly a win.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 150.

    I recall that not long ago Labour wanted to fill the country with Vegas-style Super-Casinos.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 149.

    147.123BillyB
    licence 2 operate DOES NOT mean that they own it.
    =
    That is "NOT" what I asked, but we'll move on. I agree with your following points.

    Do you think if Labour was sincere about saving vulnerable people from exploitative odds, they'd revoke Camelot's licence?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 148.

    Once upon a time British pirates used to steal from other nations, it's not so easy to do that now so now they steal from their own vulnerable people.
    Additionally
    The government kept it pretty quiet that they sold off The Tote to BetFred in 2011.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 147.

    145 Sally.
    The power to grant licence is the power to control, as a licence (permission) may be refused, is it not?
    =
    We are going bit off topic here but a licence 2 operate DOES NOT mean that they own it.

    Government grants licences to telecoms companies for bandwidth but it does not mean that they own Vodafone etc.

    However I do agree that licencing of gambling operations needs 2b reviewed :)

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 146.

    Stevie Not to mention the behaviour thatat occurs when accesss alocholnvolved. I know someone who got hit the first tim she went to a nightclub two years ago aged 19 becasue two men were fighting on the dance floor no do
    to a degree this was alcohol fuelled.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 145.

    141.123BillyB
    The power to grant licence is the power to control, as a licence (permission) may be refused, is it not?

    Would you have been appy if I wrote:
    "But, it's pretty hypocritical of the government; as it simultaneously 'licences' a gambling operation which targets vulnerable people, and whose odds are even less than a gaming machine's; The National Lottery"

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 144.

    Nanny State gone mad!

    More reasons why we should get rid of Ed Miliband and replace the most un-trusted leader we have ever had in the Labour Party.

    Give us his brother or someone with a personality rather than this over grown school boy.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 143.

    A 59% betting tax on takings for these machines would seem fair

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 142.

    138(continued) Mentioned it to a man I worked with - as he was going on a trip where he could play electronic slots he gave the theory a try. He always allocated a small amount of money and short amount of time - quit when either ran out - in playing slow when time ran out he had more money then when he started with but did agree it was hard not to speed up.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 141.

    132 Sally...

    Do you know the difference between renting something and owning something?

    ===

    Yes I do and granting a license to operate is neither.

    Yes UK gov may benefit from lotto funds but they do not own it, they merely grant a license for it to operate.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 140.

    113 Stevie if for expamle for whatever reason onw dosen't drink/ hasn't got drunk or hasn't taken any illegal drug or legal high then one is seen as haveing not lived.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 139.

    132.Sally (correction)
    Sorry, that was confusing. I'll try again :)
    I can own a shop, & grant a licence to operate a business in it for 5 years. The business doesn't own the shop, I own the premises it operates in. It has a contractual licence to trade in my shop.

    The UK State owns a scam, rents it out to Camelot for a fee, a fee derived from targeting vulnerable people with impossible odds.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 138.

    Sounds like US electronic slots and other games that can cause a player to lose a large amount of money without breaking a sweat. Discovered if you played windows solitaire Klondike version really slow you could win in some cases 2 games it a row - but the faster you play the faster you lose has to do with whatever pointer the shuffle uses to reorder the deck. (continued in 5 minutes)

  • rate this
    +15

    Comment number 137.

    As an unemployed 18 year old in the 70s I foolishly walked into an amusement arcade after cashing my fortnightly Giro. Two hours later I left without a penny to my name but with a valuable lesson learned about gambling with Monet needed for essentials.

    Unfortunately some never learn this lesson and fixed odds machines rely on that.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 136.

    I think they should concern themselves more with the group of people who are holding these poor gamblers at knife and gunpoint and physically pressing them into these shops and then forcing the money out of their pockets and into these machines...

    Yes it can be an addiction but at some point you have to decide what's important, your personal thrills, or your house, kids, wife/hubby and cat/dog.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 135.

    I bet this will be a waste of taxpayers money, I think it will be in the publics interest to scrap councillors rather than gambling establishments.....

 

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    Douglas Carswell

    "What I do know is that it's incredibly difficult when someone changes side in politics."

    Douglas Carswell tells the Daily Politics show about the defection of UKIP MEP Amjad Bashir to the Conservatives, hours after he was suspended over various allegations by the party he was leaving.

    The Essex MP also speaks to Jo Coburn about his own defection in the opposite political direction last year.

     
  60.  
    15:24: Better than an empty chair?
    Champagne glasses

    Former SNP leader Alex Salmond tells the Aberdeen Press and Journal he thinks the broadcasters should put objects in place of any party leaders who don't show up for the TV debates. He suggested the following:

    David Cameron - a glass of champagne

    Ed Miliband - a bacon sandwich

    Nick Clegg - the pledge not to raise tuition fees he signed during the 2010 general election campaign

    Nigel Farage - a pint of beer

    Mr Salmond also said a debate between just David Cameron and Ed Miliband would be a simple re-run of PMQs, which has "turned off more television sets than the standby button".

     
  61.  
    15:17: Reality Check: Immigration
    Mark Easton

    In this video, the BBC's home editor Mark Easton reports on how immigration could factor as one of the big issues in the general election.

     
  62.  
    Tweet: @BBC_HaveYourSay Get involved

    @Liz_Hutchins tweets: 'We are addicted to the fag ends of fossil fuels' @julianhuppert tells rally #banfracking

     
  63.  
    15:05: Hoax call to No 10

    Deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg says it is "quite right" that security is being reviewed after a hoax caller - posing as the head of government monitoring agency GCHQ - got to speak to the prime minister.

    Mr Clegg says: "Downing Street has been clear that this is being looked in to at the moment and when a hoax call like that take place, security arrangements are of course, quite rightly, reviewed."

     
  64.  
    14:59: Today in Parliament

    Work and Pensions questions kick off today's action in the House of Commons, with the controversial under-occupancy penalty - or what opponents label the "bedroom tax" - one of the topics set to be discussed.

    The House of Lords will consider the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill. A number of peers, including former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Blair, are attempting to introduce an amendment to the bill, and have faced accusations they are effectively re-introducing the so-called "Snoopers Charter" after it was emphatically rejected by a joint parliamentary committee on the Communications Data Bill.

    You can follow the BBC's coverage of Parliament on Westminster Live.

     
  65.  
    14:58: 'We've stuck with it' BBC News Channel
    Liberal Democrat MP Ian Swales

    Liberal Democrat MP Ian Swales tells the BBC: "I think the fact that the coalition has been here five years proves that we can do business with people. We've had to react to the problems in the country, we knew that life would be difficult for us, both in government and as a party - but we've stuck at it, we've stuck together.

    "And I think we've made a huge difference that the public will come to recognise - maybe over the coming years when historians start to write this Parliament up they'll realise what a great job we've done."

     
  66.  
    14:48: 'Nasty' tag The Daily Mail

    A YouGov/Prospect poll for the Daily Mail says the Tories' lead Labour when voters are forced to choose between the two parties, but that 42% of voters still see the Conservatives as the "nasty party".

     
  67.  
    14:47: Election scenarios The Guardian

    The Guardian's Tom Clark looks at some of the potential outcomes of a hung parliament in May, and asks what kind of deals - if any - we might expect to see between the parties.

     
  68.  
    14:43: Fracking vote

    MPs will attempt to amend a government bill on infrastructure later on Monday - to bar the fracking of shale gas. The House of Commons debate on fracking should start just after 15:30 GMT - with voting starting at 17:30. You can watch proceedings on Democracy Live.

     
  69.  
    14:37: Three wise men BBC News Channel
    Sir Menzies Campbell, Jack Straw & Sir Richard Ottoway

    Biggest changes they've seen at Parliament? Sir Menzies Campbell, Jack Straw & Sir Richard Ottoway give their views - Watch their BBC News Channel interview on Twitter

     
  70.  
    The Daily Telegraph

    James Kirkup contrasts Ed Miliband's response to the Greek election result with David Cameron's, and says the Labour leader's "bland, faintly pious, and politically pointless" words leave him looking "like a bystander".

     
  71.  
    Isabel Hardman The Spectator

    writes: As coalition rows go, today's 'spat' over who is most supportive of aspirational voters really is the more boring for a while. Read more

     
  72.  
    14:25: Reality Check: Health & the NHS

    And in this report, the BBC's health editor Hugh Pym asks how the NHS will feature in the general election campaign.

     
  73.  
    14:15: Reality Check: Education
    gillian hargreaves

    Over the next three months, the BBC is going to look at the main party manifestos and 'reality check' the facts and figures that are presented.

    In this video, the BBC's education correspondent Gillian Hargreaves examines the issues that politicians will have to tackle affecting schools and universities in the run up to the general election.

     
  74.  
    14:11: Ask Nick Robinson

    More from BBC political editor Nick Robinson, who is doing a live Facebook Q&A until 1430:

    Facebook
     
  75.  
    14:03: Clegg on election debates

    Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg says he is "not completely happy" with the proposals for the televised election debates, but acknowledges that "everyone is going to have to compromise".

    He says: "I hope David Cameron takes part in those leaders' debates. I hope everyone does. I think, you know, you shouldn't be looking for excuses to wriggle out of them which appears to be the approach from the Conservative party so far."

     
  76.  
    13:56: Jagger on fracking BBC News Channel
     Bianca Jagger

    Former actress and human rights campaigner, Bianca Jagger, has joined the anti-fracking rally at Westminster. She tells BBC News: "What I hope to achieve is to convince MPs that what is at stake here is our way of life, our environment, our water sources, the air we breathe everyday - that this will be putting in danger even our commitment to reducing CO2 emissions."

     
  77.  
    13:50: Anti-fracking protest
    protesters at westminster

    Anti-fracking campaigners are protesting at Westminster where they will be handing in a petition to MPs later, signed by 300,000 people. They are opposing legislation that would allow companies to frack - or extract shale gas - from beneath people's land and home without landowners' permission.

    It comes as an influential committee of MPs has called for a moratorium on fracking on the grounds that it could derail efforts to tackle climate change.

     
  78.  
    13:47: Clegg on Greece

    Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said that differences of opinion between Greece and other European countries must be "resolved quickly" to avoid "a long period of instability" in the eurozone.

    "Clearly the election results in Greece will now lead to a period of uncertainty in the eurozone. Any uncertainty is frankly unwelcome because what you need is stability and certainty for economic growth to really take root. And I think that one of the lessons that we can all draw looking at Greece is that we could have been Greece. As a country our deficit back in 2010 was very similar to the deficit that Greece had.

    "We took the difficult and frankly at times downright unpopular decisions to pull the country back from the brink and I hope that whatever the differences of opinion are between Greece and those other parts of the eurozone, that those differences can be resolved quickly because we can't afford a long period of instability."

     
  79.  
    13:45: Ask Nick Robinson

    BBC political editor Nick Robinson is on Facebook now, dispensing wisdom on your questions and comments in a live Q&A. Here's a sample:

    Facebook
     
  80.  
    13:39: 100 constituencies
    thurrock

    The BBC's Today programme is visiting 100 constituencies between now and polling day. The BBC's Matthew Price has been in Thurrock and finds that it is now a three-way battle.

    "The fracturing of the political landscape, which is happening across the country, makes this one of the least predictable general elections the UK has seen in recent memory," he says.

    As far as Harris, a 27-year-old scrap metal merchant from Grays in Essex, is concerned, the last five years have seen a shift in the political landscape of this country. "People's ideas of what they want have changed," he says.

     
  81.  
    Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    tweets: Ed Miliband accuses PM of playing politics over reaction to Greek election result

     
  82.  
    13:29: Ask Nick Robinson

    BBC political editor Nick Robinson is at his keyboard, preparing to answer your questions on a live Facebook Q&A.

    Nick Robinson
     
  83.  
    Email: haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk Get involved

    Louis Lavery emails: Online voting, by mobile too, I assume? That'd likely encourage far more youngsters to vote. So long as it can be made secure. Someone give Dave a ring and see what he thinks.

     
  84.  
    Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: YouGov for Standard puts Lib Dems 5th in London, behind UKIP & Greens, Lab 10 ahead of Cons standard.co.uk/news/politics/… via @JoeMurphyLondon

     
  85.  
    13:01: How Parliament has changed BBC News Channel
    Sir Menzies Campbell, Jack Straw and Richard Ottoway

    The BBC's Norman Smith spoke to three eminent Parliamentarians planning to step down at the next election. Richard Ottoway, right, Jack Straw, centre, and Sir Menzies Campbell, who said the big changes he had seen was the pace of the news cycle and the lack of time to "sit, read and to think". He also said constituents were much more demanding than they used to be.

     
  86.  
    Tweet: @BBC_HaveYourSay Get involved

    @x00 tweets: Not sure I trust online voting enough. Or e-voting either >> Election should include online voting in 2020 - Bercow http://bbc.in/18hEQG1

     
  87.  
    12:45: Online voting plans

    Labour's Angela Eagle, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, said the Speaker's Commission on Digital Democracy "suggests some interesting ways to improve our democracy and help us meet the challenges of our modern age".

    "Labour is committed to piloting online voting to see if it can be done securely and affordably. We will also create a new democracy portal to draw together in one place all of the things you need to know before you vote, we will make it easier to register to vote and we will reform the scrutiny of legislation to formalise a role for the public and give a greater role to backbench MPs."

     
  88.  
    12:34: Lib Dem tax plans
    Danny Alexander Danny Alexander, left, with Vince Cable earlier this month

    Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander hits back at Conservative claims that Lib Dem plans to raise taxes are the "enemy of aspiration".

    "The Tories seem to think that aspiration should be for the rich. The Lib Dems are delivering opportunity for everyone. We have been cutting taxes from millions of working people against the wishes of the Conservatives, eight million families over £1,300-a-year better off thanks to the Liberal Democrat tax cuts. The Tories need to recognise that everybody has the right to expect the government to be on their side, not just the wealthiest."

     
  89.  
    @estembassyuk Estonian Embassy UK

    tweets: John Bercow talks abt perks of e-voting http://ow.ly/HWeOu via @guardian. #Estonia has used e-voting since 2005 http://ow.ly/HWa1H

     
  90.  
    12:20: Greek election fallout Robin Brant Political Correspondent, BBC News

    The prime minister "respects the decision of the Greek people" but he believes that the new Greek government "need to meet their international commitments" to the IMF and other creditors, Downing Street says. Asked if David Cameron has spoken to either Germany's Angela Merkel or France's President Hollande since the election result, the PM's official spokesperson said "no".

     
  91.  
    12:09: Online voting plans BBC Radio 4 The World at One

    Professor Ian Brown, Associate Director of Oxford University's Cyber Security Centre, has told the BBC's World at One that a proposal to introduce online voting by 2020 is "really incredibly optimistic". Professor Brown, who contributed to the democracy commission set up by Commons Speaker John Bercow, said the proposal would not be deliverable in time.

    "For national elections you really want to be very sure indeed that people aren't able to break into voting systems and to affect people's opinion of the trustworthiness of the results, which I think unfortunately would be a very significant risk if we in the UK were to introduce online voting in the kind of time-frame that John Bercow has talked about," he has told the programme.

     
  92.  
    12:07: Daily Politics

    The Daily Politics with Jo Coburn is under way - today they are looking at Greece's election fallout, the row over fracking and whether the old-fashioned ballot box will be a thing of the past by 2020. You can watch it live via the Live Coverage tab on this page, or on a TV on BBC Two.

     
  93.  
    12:01: Cameron on TV debates

    The prime minister has suggested that he believes that the general election leaders' debates should also represent parties in Northern Ireland. The PM was asked if he would "turn up" for the proposed seven-way debates which would include the Green Party, the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru.

    He said: "We are making good progress. I was told that it was 'appalling' and 'outrageous' that I had suggested that you couldn't have one minor party without having the other minor party and I'm delighted the broadcasters have gone away and thought again. They've actually come up with rather more minor parties that I had in mind, but anyway, I'm sure they've thought it all through and they know what they are doing. Although I don't quite see why Northern Ireland seems to be missing out, because as far as I am concerned that's as important part of the United Kingdom as Wales or Scotland. But anyway, we are making good progress and I'm sure they know what they are doing.

    "I want to take part, they needed to do the minor party thing and they've certainly done that."

     
  94.  
    11:53: Coalition lessons from abroad Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    The average time it takes continental governments to form a coalition is, on average, 30 days. "So after the election we could have a good few weeks of wrangling and manoeuvring as we try and cobble together a coalition."

     
  95.  
    11:53: Hung future?
    Nick Pearce

    Nick Pearce, director of the Institute for Public Policy Research, talks to the BBC about the possibility of a hung Parliament at the next election.

    He says coalition negotiations are often down to policy but the personal dynamics between leaders are very important too.

    "Britain is clearly evolving into a truly multi-party system," he says.

     
  96.  
    @Neil_FindlayMSP 11:53: Neil Findlay, Labour MSP

    tweets: Good to see the SNP do a U turn on the proposed women's super prison - public and Labour pressure making a real difference!

     
  97.  
    11:51: Downing Street latest Robin Brant Political Correspondent, BBC News

    Downing Street says an internal review is under way but the prime minister's official spokesman says the hoax call failings are not a disciplinary matter and they don't believe a crime was committed.

     
  98.  
    11:49: Downing Street latest Robin Brant Political Correspondent, BBC News

    The prime minister believes GCHQ should "learn what lessons to learn from this" as Downing Street confirmed an internal review was underway into how a hoax caller got through to the PM yesterday. The prime minister's official spokesman said it was not a disciplinary matter, although she admitted that parts of the protocol for putting calls through to the PM "were not followed". Asked if GCHQ's director Robert Hannigan had apologised to the PM she said that had not happened.

     
  99.  
    11:47: Osborne: Fishing & the risk from Greece

    George Osborne continues: "It is just a reminder to me - and I think a reminder to everyone here - of something very important, which is that we are linked to the fortunes of Europe. And so for everyone, today's result from the Greek election will increase economic risk for us in the European economy and I think it reinforces the need for us to go on working through an economic plan that is delivering economic security here at home."

     
  100.  
    11:45: Osborne: Fishing & the risk from Greece
    George Osborne

    UK Chancellor George Osborne, speaking in Plymouth, says: "This morning I was on a fishing boat in Newquay and the fisherman, Phil, who has fished for crabs and has done so for the last 40 years, was explaining to me how his business was being affected by the fact that spider crabs that he sells to Spain are not being sold in the same volumes - because the eurozone is not working, because jobs aren't there in Spain."

     

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