News Blog

March 26, 2016, 2:59 pm

Labour proposal to allow councils to ban the FOBTs

Leader of the UK Labour Party Ed Milliband is adding his voice to the generally growing chorus of condemnation of the "FOBTs", or Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, which currently proliferate in high street bookmakers. As reported by the BBC:

Labour would give councils power to ban roulette machines

Ed Miliband has vowed to give councils the power to ban high stakes roulette machines from bookmakers' shops if Labour wins the next election

Punters can bet up to £300 a minute on so-called Fixed Odds Betting Terminals.

Mr Miliband said they were "spreading like an epidemic" causing "debt and misery" and acting as a magnet for crime and anti-social behaviour.

He said Labour would amend planning and gambling laws so councils in England, Scotland and Wales could ban them.

He told BBC News fixed odds machines were "addictive for some people" and the gambling industry targeted poorer parts of the country.

"Somebody has got to step in and stand up to the betting industry," he added.


There is no small irony in this announcement, Labour itself having introduced the FOBTs to Britain in the sea changes in the gambling industry that occurred with the passage of the 2005 Gambling Act.

The Association Of British Bookmakers is, predictably, unhappy:

Putting 40,000 jobs at risk does not help problem gambling

This announcement has nothing to do with helping problem gamblers; it is simply about playing politics with the jobs of 40,000 people, and the enjoyment of eight million people for no reason.


Well, they would hardly be in favour of a move that will cut their members' profits. And it can't be denied that there's a certain amount of political game-play involved, as the government has been dithering on the matter. But if the right things happen for the wrong reasons, or for a combination of the right and wrong reasons, that's a lot better than the right things not happening at all.

This will be welcome news to the Stop The FOBTs organisation, which has been campaigning against these machines for some time.

Related material:

• Daily Mail: Ed Miliband declares war on 'crack cocaine' gaming machines

• Daily Mail: Britons pump £46billion a year into gambling machines

• Intergame: Labour promises FOBT reforms

• GPWA: No action on high street FOBTs

• Casinomeister: Crack Cocaine of the highstreet