New measures intended to protect gambling addicts from dangerous Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) are failing, according to a new report.
A study by the Responsible Gambling Trust (RGT) shows that a code of conduct forced on the gambling industry after pressure from campaigners is not helping gamblers to spend less time and money on the machines.
A call to lower the maximum stake on FOBTs – labelled the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’ – from £100 to £2 was rejected by the Government in July.
The Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) introduced the code, which includes voluntary spending limits and better training for staff to spot problem gamblers, in March 2014.
At the time the ABB heralded the measures as “potentially world leading”.
However, the RGT report discovered that of the 3.9 million FOBT sessions considered, fewer than 1,400 made use of a voluntary limit.
In addition, no evidence was found for the measures reducing the length of time spent on FOBTs or the amount of money lost.
A spokesman for the Campaign for Fairer Gambling said: “The early evidence is that the measures are failing”.
He continued: “The Conservatives have been hoodwinked yet again and the bookmakers found lacking yet again.”
In July, the Government rejected a bid supported by over 90 councils to lower the maximum stake on FOBTs. The proposal also sought to halt the spread of betting shops in deprived areas.
At the end of August, the BBC reported the story of a man known as John who is devastatingly addicted to FOBTs and uses them almost every day.
“It’s making me ill”, he said. “I’m seeking help, but that doesn’t seem to be doing it.”
“I’ve done about £400,000 to £500,000 in the last eight years and now I’ve only got my pension. And I still do it. I lose all my money and then struggle.”