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New Evidence Shows Addictive Betting Shop Roulette Machines Prey on the Vulnerable

LONDON, June 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

On the day Newham Council defends its decision in court to refuse an application for the 77th betting shop in the borough, a brand new survey reveals the extent of the damage that casino style roulette machines, also known as Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), are having on poor and vulnerable Londoners.

The survey, carried out by 2CV, is one of the largest ever conducted on the attitudes and gambling habits of betting shop users. It polled 501 people in Newham and found that

the vast majority of betting shop customers who have played FOBTs were:

  • male (98 per cent),
  • young (77 per cent are under 35) and
  • from lower social grades (77 per cent C2DE)

Significantly, these are the groups that scored most highly in the 2010 British Gambling Prevalence Survey (BGPS) as being prone to problem gambling. Players from these groups also spend the most and played most regularly[1].

The survey also found that in a hugely deprived borough there are high levels of gambling among FOBT users. The average cash inserted is currently around £55 per session, with 19 per cent inserting over £100 each time they play. They are then gambling an average of £17 per spin every 20 seconds, with the poorest gambling £19 per spin.

Furthermore, 87 per cent of FOBT users agree that the machines are addictive and 76 per cent said that they sometimes spend more than they plan to. Indeed, many of those surveyed show classic signs of addiction, with:

  • 62 per cent having gambled until all their money has gone
  • 68 per cent saying that they sometimes chase their losses when they lose
  • 77 per cent agreeing that they sometimes gamble for longer than they had planned

The situation is much more serious than the Government's evidence would suggest. 26 per cent of FOBT users surveyed in 2010 for the BGPS said they played the machines once a week or more. However, 63 per cent of FOBT gamblers now play once a week or more often according to the survey carried out in Newham.

Derek Webb, founder of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, said: "This new evidence gives a clear indication of what is actually happening on the ground. We have known about these problems for some time, which is why we launched the Stop the FOBTs campaign, but this research confirms it and it suggests that bookmakers are deliberately setting up in deprived areas to prey on the vulnerable. The concerns over addiction are legitimate and machine use is on the rise. Currently, you can bet £100 every 20 seconds on FOBTs. The government must reduce the maximum stake to £2."

Matt Zarb-Cousin, also of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, said: "The situation in Newham has gone too far. Democratically elected councils should not have to be hauled before Magistrates every time they want to stop yet another betting shop opening because the bookmakers want to get more FOBTs onto the high street. This research shows the harmful effects of the proliferation of high stakes, high speed gaming on FOBTs. The only way we can stop betting shops clustering is by imposing some responsible restrictions on them."

For more information, visit http://www.stopthefobts.org.  

Notes to editors:

About the Campaign for Fairer Gambling

It is a campaign striving for fairness in gambling. So, the campaign is centred around the three licensing objectives of the Gambling Act 2005, aimed at:

  1. preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime,
  2. ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way, and
  3. protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.

The Campaign aims to:

  1. Engage with politicians to toughen legislation
  2. Gather evidence of unfairness and non-transparency
  3. Rally support from special interest groups to highlight the negative social and economic impact caused by problem gambling under the current legislation

The Campaign for Fairer Gambling http://www.fairergambling.org is a not-for-profit entity funded by Derek Webb and Hannah O'Donnell. It recently launched the "Stop the FOBTs" campaign to highlight the problems associated with Fixed Odds Betting Terminals http://www.stopthefobts.org.  

1. Pg 89- In the present survey, there is a marked association between problem gambling prevalence and age. The highest rates were observed among younger adults aged 16-24 (2.1 per cent) and those aged 25-34 (1.5per cent) and the lowest rates were observed among older adults (0.3per cent among those aged 55-64 and 0.2per cent of those aged 65 and over)


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