Responsible Gambling: Tackling Fixed Odds Betting Terminals

Local resident and taxi driver Hussain Vorajee has spoken to me both about his gambling addiction and the wider issue of the severe social impact that Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) can have on families. FOBTs allow people to put £100 every 20 seconds into this machine, with the average user losing £1,200 a year. Some customers don’t have much money and the shops are often in poorer areas, adding to the issue.

There are choices involved: no one is forced to gamble, but gambling can become an addiction and we should help those addicted or likely to be addicted. It’s time to be responsible about gambling and that’s why I’ve asked the Minister to have this stake reduced from £100 to £2. I can see no benefit to anyone from having such high stakes.

FOBTs are electronic machines, sited in betting shops, which contain a variety of games, including roulette. Each machine accepts bets for amounts up to a pre-set maximum and pays out according to fixed odds on the simulated outcomes of games. The gross gambling yield from FOBTs was £1.8 billion.

A survey by the Gambling Commission found that a third of the 1.45 million people who used the machines were at risk of becoming addicts.

In October 2016 the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced a review of gambling machines and social responsibility measures including looking at FOBTs. The government has pledged to publish its findings soon in response to campaigners who want to see the maximum stake aspect in particular addressed.

Hussain Vorajee wrote to Richard with his concerns over machines. He said:

“I’m pleased that Richard has agreed to take up this cause. Gambling addictions can ruin lives, as I know, and these machines should be better regulated.”

Richard with Hussain Vorajee discussing FOBTs