George Osborne angers anti-gambling lobbyists, and Nottingham Trent University researchers believe games like Candy Crush Saga are creating the gamblers of the future.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has come under the fire from anti-gambling groups after The Mirror revealed that he took the manufuacturing kingpin of the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) on a trade mission to China.
Luke Alvarez, the founder and CEO of Inspired Gaming Group plc., was amongst 20 delegates invited to join Osborne on a trip to China, which according to Osborne was designed “to showcase the best of Britain’s digital technology industry, strengthen ties between British and Chinese companies and help British companies gain access to the fast-expanding Chinese market.”
The news comes just days after the Prime Minister, David Cameron, spoke at Prime Minister Question Time to support the Labor Party’s belief that the FOBTs were causing major problems in British society, prompting suspicion surrounding Cameron’s vow to do something about the ‘problem.’
Matt Zarb-Cousin of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling said: “Mr. Cameron might say he’s concerned about FOBTs but he appears to care more about the profits of the firm that makes them.
“The Government should protect people from addictive gambling products rather than the interests of the betting industry.”
It’s believed Inspired Gaming Group Ltd supply more than half of the UK’s 34,000 FOBTs and Alvarez has been at the helm for the past 12-years.
The Mirror are running a Ban The Casino Machines campaign where they are demanding five key changes to rules surrounding FOBTs.
1. A £2 limit per spin
2. Give local authorities power to agree/disagree betting shop licenses.
3. A reduction to one FOBT machine per shop.
4. Introduce a min waiting time of two minutes per spin.
5. Clear warning signs of the risks involved, and also clear and accurate signage concerning the odds and probability of payouts.
Is Candy Crush Saga a Gateway to FOBTs?
Social media games such as Candy Crush Saga might well be a gateway game for future gambling problems according to Mark Griffiths, Director of the International Gaming Research Unit, at Nottingham Trent University.
Griffiths believes the problems our children face when playing well designed virtual currency games, that also offer the opportunity to spend real money, are so fierce that we should include Gambling as part of our children’s Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) lessons.
‘One of the biggest predictors of whether people become gamblers is the playing of gambling-type games on free-play sites. When you start winning, you start thinking that if I was playing with real money, I could be doing quite well. Children who play those free games are more likely to gamble and more likely to develop problem gambling behaviors. These are gateway activities that can lead people down the gambling road.’ Griffiths told The Times.
Candy Crush Saga allows people to play the game for free, but does offer more game incentives for real money in app purchases. The app has been downloaded more than 500 million times.
A spokesperson for the games designers King told The Times that Candy Crush Saga was designed to appeal to adult women aged between 35 and 50.
‘Games like Candy Crush have a moreishness quality, a bit like chocolate. You say you’ll just have one chunk and you end up having the whole lot. So you say, “I’ll just play for 15 minutes” and you end up still there four or five hours later.’ Said Griffiths.