The Government is today calling for evidence on any link between problem gambling and B2 machines (sometimes referred to as fixed odds betting terminals, or FOBTs) as part of a consultation it has launched to review the maximum stake and prize limits for gaming machines.
In a response to the on-going debate about B2 machines, including persistent concerns about their link to problem gambling, the Government has decided to call for evidence on the potential social impact B2 machines may have. It will be seeking the views from the gambling industry, problem gambling groups and others on how a change to the level of stake and/or prize for B2 machines would have an effect socially, in terms of gambling related harm, or economically, such as the impact on high street betting shops, investment and employment. The Government has today responded to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee’s report into Gambling and rejected their recommendation to ease current restrictions on B2 gaming machines.
The three month consultation, entitled Gambling Act 2005: Triennial Review of Gaming Machines Stake and Prize Limits is also inviting the gambling industry, charities as well as faith and community groups for their input on the value of stakes and prizes on a range of gaming machines. The review will apply to those gaming machines classified as category B, C and D and found in venues such as betting shops, casinos, arcades and pubs.
Minister for Sport and Tourism, Hugh Robertson said: “The Government’s response balances the need to acknowledge gambling’s contribution to the economy with an explicit recognition of the need to protect players, particularly at the higher end stakes. We recognise the current concerns about the impact of such machines, are undertaking an evidence based review and will take action if necessary.”
The consultation sets out four possible options to consider including a preferred option from the Government. This proposal includes B2 machines stake and prizes remaining the same until more robust evidence is gathered, the casino industry trialling consumer protection measures, such as the use of tracking technology to monitor patterns of play and a proposal to make slight increases to the maximum prizes for category C and D machines that is expected to deliver economic benefits to bingo halls, and seaside amusement arcades and pubs.
The other options to be considered include one to do nothing, so the current stake and prizes remain the same, one proposal that would see an increase to the monetary levels to cover inflation from 2007, when the Gambling Act came into force and a package that has been put forward by the gambling industry. Subject to the outcome of the consultation the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will develop and agree final proposals to take forward with the Gambling Commission, the body responsible for regulating the industry in Great Britain, with any changes to the stake and prizes covering category B, C and D gaming machines expected to be implemented towards the end of 2013, subject to Parliamentary approval.
Aside from rejecting the recommendations by the Committee to ease restrictions on B2 gaming machines, the Government response recognises the importance of gambling as a legitimate part of the leisure industry and the contribution it makes to the economy but also acknowledged that for others it can cause serious harm and distress. The Government agrees with the Committee about the importance of getting a better understanding on the relationship between different types of gambling, including machine gaming, and problem gambling. It has welcomed the strategic priorities set out last November by the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board and the Responsible Gambling Trust to commission independent research on gaming machines that will help shape future policy.
The response also highlighted the Government’s commitment to ensuring customers are protected by consistent regulation of the online market. A draft Bill to ensure greater protection measures for British based users of remote gambling services, including online bingo, casino websites and telephone betting was published last month and is before the Culture Select Committee for scrutiny.
Notes to Editors
The consultation document, Gambling Act 2005: Triennial Review of Gaming Machines Stake and Prize Limits is available here.
The Government’s response to the Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee’s report into Gambling is available here.
The Gambling Commission was set up under the Gambling Act 2005 to regulate commercial gambling in Great Britain.
Responsible Gambling Trust
Responsible Gambling Strategy Board
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