FOBTs IN BETTING SHOPS
The Gambling Commission
Control over FOBTs in betting shops continues to exercise the Gambling Commission. It has updated its Licence Condition & Codes of Practice with the addition of a new “social responsibility code provision” (#9). This provision applies to all non-remote betting, bingo and casino operating licences. Consolidating the texts –
"Gaming machines may be made available in licensed [betting/bingo/casino] premises only where there are substantive facilities for non-remote [betting/bingo/casino games], provided in reliance on the [relevant] operating licence, available in the premises."
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY CODE 9
Summary and LCCP
- Gaming machines may be made available for use in licensed betting (etc.) premises only where there are also substantive facilities available in the premises for such non-remote activities as are provided in reliance on the relevant operating licence.
- [provides for adequate supervision by staff]
- Licensees must ensure that the function along with the internal and/or eternal presentation of the premises are such that a customer can reasonably be expected to recognise that they are premises licensed for the purposes of provided betting (etc.).
Protecting the Vulnerable
In formulating this new code the Commission has relied heavily on a proposition, expressed in a very few words by Judge NJ Warren in the Luxury Leisure case. The judge said that the Commission is allowed to regulate “the atmosphere in which gambling facilities are provided”. In the Consultation preceding the LCCP 2016, the Commission expressed concern for vulnerable people.
The Commission seeks to protect those who might enter gambling premises unaware of what type of gambling premises they are. Or even if they are gambling premises at all... Whether or not this has been identified in the past as a real, as opposed to theoretical, problem is not immediately apparent.
Campaigns against FOBTs
There are several campaigns to take FOBTs out of betting shops altogether, or to reduce the stakes and winnings of them. Newspapers (such as The Times) regularly speak out against the damage to society in general alleged to be done by these gaming machines. A recurring description of FOBTs is that they are "the crack-cocaine of gambling". Although Donald Trump coined the phrase in an attempt to discredit a wholly different gambling product, there is a stubborn determination to apply it to FOBTs. The Times uses the expression, almost every day and in full knowledge of its pedigree, to the point of obsession.
See also Commentary: 'A Modern King Canute?"
Further reading: ResPublica Report 16 October 2017
See also: Government to reduce maximum FOBT stake