The UK government has finally confirmed plans to review the electronic gaming machines in bookmakers’ betting shops as well as gambling operators’ advertising practices.
On Monday, Tracey Crouch (pictured), the Tory Minister for Sport, Tourism & Heritage, announced that the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) was launching a review of bookmakers’ fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBT), confirming rumors that have been circulating since early September.
The DCMS has issued a call for evidence (viewable here) seeking views on whether to lower the current maximum FOBT stake of £100 per spin as well as whether to amend the current limit of four FOBTs per betting shop. The deadline for submitting evidence is December 4, after which the government will consider the submissions and determine the appropriate regulatory response.
The DCMS also plans to examine “the impacts of gambling advertising and whether the right rules are in place to protect children and vulnerable people.” Earlier this month, rumors circulated that the government was mulling a blanket ban on all gambling advertising before 9pm, including an end to the exemption granted to sportsbook advertising during live sporting events.
The UK Gambling Commission issued a statement welcoming the government’s review, with UKGC CEO Sarah Harrison calling the move “an excellent opportunity for all those with an interest in gambling to ensure their voices are heard.” Harrison also praised the fact that the DCMS had established “a clear timetable” for the review.
Harrison confirmed that the UKGC would be “submitting our advice to Government in line with our statutory duties. Our advice, which will be informed by our expert advisors the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board, will be made public after it is submitted. Obviously it would be inappropriate to offer a running commentary as the review progresses.”
Association of British Bookmakers’ CEO Malcolm George said his group welcomed “an evidence-based review” and said the ABB would be submitting “detailed evidence on the elements relevant to high street betting shops and our six million customers.” George said the ABB’s submission would detail “the progress made on the responsible gambling agenda which we are continually developing.”