‘Clean up your act!’: Bookmakers’ group calls for arcade action

  • ABB attacks arcade operators’ lack of responsible gambling action
  • UK Gambling Commission report reveals 9am losing trend
  • Bookies group hits back after pressure over Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs)

Following a new report published by the UK Gambling Commission, the Association of British Bookmakers has issued a statement calling for the amusement arcade industry to commit to better responsible gaming practises.

Slot machines
Calls have been made to put more focus on responsible gambling in UK amusement arcades

The findings of the UK Gambling Commission suggest that players are 67% more likely to spend over two hours on arcade gaming machines than on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals in betting shops, which is a flag for potential problem gambling. The data also highlights a danger spot where players seem to be more likely to lose. The ABB feels that this data highlights a lack of responsible gambling practice seen in UK amusement arcades.

The ABB said in a statement: “It is time the amusement arcade industry cleaned up its act and got its house in order. Arcade owners should be doing far more to support responsible gambling. This research from the Gambling Commission clearly shows that people can lose more money, more quickly in an amusement arcade than a betting shop.”

In the UK Gambling Commission’s report, the ‘highest hourly average gross win per session (player loss)’ figure of all venue types is between 9am and 10am in Adult Gaming Centres. Adult Gaming Centres are usually associated with machines that accept larger stakes and offer bigger payouts.

“The evidence also revealed that the biggest session losses for customers across all gaming machines occur between 9am and 10am in adult gaming centres. In a betting shop, gaming machine players can set their own limits on what they spend or time they play for, and they are supervised by a highly-trained staff – staff who can spot and help people getting into difficulty.”
ABB statement.

Trade group says amusements are socially responsible

But bacta, the UK trade body representing the amusement industry said late last year that its members are operating with responsible gambling in mind.

Gabi Stergides, vice-president of bacta, said: “We need to demonstrate that we are on the front foot with regards to social responsibility and to establish that we have a universal programme of processes and actions which can be measured and which Bacta members embrace and live by.

“I believe that we have made great progress across a range of issues, including age verification, an enhanced testing regime, a social responsibility charter and improving the Bacta toolkits in line with the License Conditions and Code of Practice set out by the Gambling Commission.
“We recognise that social responsibility is a continuous process and this committee is responsible for driving it forward and demonstrating that it is at the heart of everything we, as Bacta members, do.”
Gabi Stergiges, vice-presdent, bacta.

The ABB has already criticised a recent report by UK Parliament MPs on FOBTs, calling for the maximum stake to be reduced from £100 to just £2. However, bookmakers are seriously worried at possible tougher regulations on the gaming machines, which are said to account for about 50% of land-based bookmakers’ profits. The ABB claimed the report was rigged, pointing to the fact that it was in part funded by rivals connected to the casino industry who would stand to gain from machines being heavily regulated.

Fixed-Odds-Betting-Terminal-(FOBT)
Bookmakers are concerned about potential legal restrictions on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs)

Malcolm George, Chief Executive of the Association of British Bookmakers, said: “No wonder the vested interests who are behind the campaign against FOBTs wanted to distract attention from their own machines. It is time they stopped just making it up as they go along.”

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