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Local Councils Could Sway Government Opinions On Betting Shops

Author: Renee Israel

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Will change come to the maximum limit allowed to stake on fixed odds betting terminals due to pressure from independent councils? The Independent noted this week that a coalition made up of 80 councils has launched a campaign to step up the pressure on Government to make radical changes to high street betting shops.

The councils want to convince government to have the maximum stake allowed to wager on FOBTs to be brought down to just £2 per spin, thus bringing these machines in line with other types of gambling machines.

How do councils think they will wield enough power to see changes made? It seems that they are pointing to the Sustainable Communities Act, allowing councils to suggest solutions to problems they are witnessing on a local level. The coalition wants to highlight what they believe to be the direct link between FOBTs ("the crack cocaine of gambling") and a rise in social problems such as violence, gambling addiction and money laundering.

Support for Change

It can't be said that councils lack support for many of the proposals brought up by them.

The Campaign for Fairer Gaming, a vocal group calling for changes to and tighter regulation of high street betting shops, continues to support local councils.

"There are more than twice as many betting shops in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived and with Fixed Odds Betting Terminals causing real social harm in those communities it is no wonder that councils across the country are mobilising against the Government's inaction on this issue," said the Campaign's Adrian Parkinson.

Shadow gaming minister, Clive Efford, said: "Local authorities must be empowered to deal with the clustering of betting shops and FOBTs. Labour will ensure councils can reduce the number of, or remove, FOBTs in betting shops if local people perceive a problem in their area."

UK Bookmakers Fight Back

British bookmakers continue to fight against continued witch hunts against their businesses, pointing out - justifiably - that the highest standards of player protection are put in place in their high street shops.

With up to £40 billion being wagered each year on FOBTs, bookmakers have too much at stake to risk seeing dramatic changes, and therefore they take all the right measures to keep these betting machines as safe as possible.

And even the government seems to be sticking to its current policy right now.

"We believe the measures the Government is taking, combined with a mandatory and toughened code as well as more regular warning messages and breaks in, are sufficient to improve player protection," announced a spokesman.

 Posted by Renee Israel at 10:19 on 25 November 2014

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