Ban ‘crack cocaine’ gaming machines, says Times columnist

Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) should be banned outright, a columnist for The Times has said.

Oliver Kamm says there is “a compelling case to legislatively crack down” on FOBTs, because they are “causing havoc and misery”.

He said that gamblers “can easily lose a monthly pay packet in a lunchtime” because of the addictiveness of the high-speed, high-stakes betting.


FOBTs allow gamblers to place bets of up to £100 every 20 seconds.

The machines are specifically designed to use short payout intervals and rapid play to “override the better judgement of the punter”, Kamm noted.

Saying there was “a clear case for draconian legislation to limit stakes”, he argued that: “Individual bookmakers can’t be left to police themselves because scrupulous operators would lose out to competitors”.

’Crack cocaine’

Kamm also highlighted the involvement of Stewart Kenny, the former CEO of Paddy Power, Britain’s largest bookmaker, in preventing the introductions of FOBTs to Ireland.

Stewart Kenny, warned the Irish government to stay away from the “dangerously addictive” machines, known as “the crack cocaine of gambling”.

“It is in no-one’s interest”, he wrote while lobbying in 2009, “neither betting shop customers nor wider society” to legislate to allow FOBTs in betting shops.


The Department for Culture, Media and Sport ended its consultation on FOBTs on Sunday, part of which considered whether to lower the maximum stake from £100 to £2.

It is expected to make a decision in the new year.

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