The UK Reviews FOBT Stakes and Prizes

The recent Campaign for Fairer Gambling criticism of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals has provoked the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to make an announcement of comprehensive consultation and program review on gambling in the UK in order to base decisions on fact and not supposition.

A part of the review will deal with FOBTs, high street betting shops' threat to potential problem gamblers, and the government insists that stakes and prizes remain unchanged which is in accordance with its previous rejection to increase the number of machines per shop currently allowed.

As Sports Minister 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 consultative process is under way involving meetings and a communications campaign as part of government's triennial review of the industry. All the interested parties in the process must contribute in writing before April 9, 2013.

The government has suggested there are a number of options ranging from maintaining the status quo on stake and prize levels for various categories of machine/establishments to those that could up both wager levels and prizes.

For instance, the Campaign for Fairer Gambling wants maximum stakes cut heavily to 2 pounds and the gaps between each spin lengthened.

The Labour Party's shadow minister for Culture, Clive Efford, has demanded this week that local communities should be given more say in the licensing of new betting shops in their areas. He also insists on forcing the operators to install software on FOBTs to remind players, via pop-ups, of length of playing and of amount staked.

The 2011 UK government triennial review system on gambling forms the foundation of the current consultation. The first review has been completed and the government is now consulting on a package of measures changing the maximum stake and prize limits for a range of gaming machines situated in arcades, betting shops, bingo premises, casinos and pubs and clubs in Britain.

According to a government spokesman, the goal is to ensure the right level of regulation to allow businesses to grow while at the same time maintaining public protection.

Welcoming the review, the new chief of the UK Gambling Commission, Sir Philip Graf, said: '... building public confidence is the key to unlocking the opportunities for innovation and growth that the industry seeks. To do so the industry needs to take full ownership of the licensing objectives ... and gambling operators must do more to publicly demonstrate their commitment to keeping gambling fair and safe."

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