Gambling machine time restrictions not enough, says Bishop

Restrictions placed on betting machines do not go far enough to prevent gambling-related harm, a Bishop has said.

Betting shops are updating their machines to detect if a player is betting more erratically, or playing continually for 20 minutes, and imposes a 30 or 20 second break accordingly.

Revd Dr Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, said the move was a “first step”, suggesting 20 seconds was so short as to be “effectively meaningless”.


Bishop Smith called for an independent review to investigate the effectiveness of the change and questioned why similar protections were not being introduced online.

“It is strange that industry chiefs are fighting any further regulation for their remote operations while at the same time trumpeting their efforts on the high street.”

The Anonymous Player Awareness System is being introduced to machines in all UK betting shops, as a potential model for elsewhere.


The technology tracks “erratic play, chasing losses, speed of play and time spent on the machine”, and notifies staff when the cooling off period is triggered.

During this time, the screen displays safer gambling warnings.

The restrictions have been devised by the Betting and Gaming Council, following the increasing number of problem gamblers in the UK.

Earlier this year, a study found that people battling gambling addictions are 15 times more likely to commit suicide than those in the general population.

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