‘Crack cocaine’ of gambling set for Govt review

A review of Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), known as the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling, has been ordered by the Government.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport will examine the use of these machines, which have been linked to organised crime and severe gambling debt.

The review will be led by culture minister Tracey Crouch, reportedly with the backing of the Prime Minister Theresa May.

Detrimental impact

Campaign groups have welcomed the news, having long called for action.

Councillor Simon Blackburn, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said that a review into FOBTs and “the harm they cause to vulnerable people and local communities is overdue”.

He added: “We need action to help protect communities and those at risk of problem gambling.”

The review will also analyse the impact of gambling advertisements on TV and is expected to be completed by the end of this year.


Currently, gamblers are able to wager up to £100 every 20 seconds on Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals, but there have been calls to lower the stakes to £2 a spin.

It is estimated that since 2008, £11.5 billion has been spent on FOBTs, raising £425 million for the Treasury through taxation in 2015 alone.

Last year, a review into the machines was blocked by the Cabinet Office.

Money Laundering

More than 600 reports of suspected money laundering were made to the National Crime Agency or the Gambling Commission in the twelve months leading to February 2016.

Adrian Parkinson, from the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, said bookmakers are effectively charging a fee for money laundering, and making profits on the proceeds.

He said that FOBTs “allow customers to stake £100 every 20 seconds so a criminal can clean thousands of pounds of drug money every hour.”


The Daily Mail recently highlighted the case of gambling addict Ryan Myers.

Myers was just 27-years-old when he committed suicide after running up thousands of pounds worth of gambling debt.

His father John said: “I hate fixed-odds betting terminals with a passion. You can lose hundreds in minutes and people get hooked – they should cap how much you can spend.”

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