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Former Gambling Addict Tells How He Lost GBP200,000 on Betting Machines

Oct 02, 2014 - by Monica Erdei
The UK Government still hasn’t taken steps to stop FOBTs from spreading

The UK Government still hasn’t taken steps to stop FOBTs from spreading

While focusing on how to increase taxes on remote gambling, officials seem to have forgotten about the more pressing issue of FOBTs.

UK’s problems with fixed-odds betting terminals are at the center of attention again. The latest gambling news have brought the issue up again, by publishing the story of a former gambling addict who revealed how he spent GBP200,000 on betting machines, over the past ten years.

Meanwhile, the government is having difficulty implementing its changes to the current remote gambling laws after online operators have challenged the decision in court, but the FOBT issue has not been handled yet. Politicians have talked about reducing the maximum stake from GBP100 to GBP50, but for now online casinos and sportsbooks seem to be a priority.

Other amendments granting local councils the power to deny betting shop applications were announced earlier this year, but they haven’t been implemented yet.

The Mirror: Gambling addict blew £200,000 in ten years after becoming hooked on fixed odds betting terminals

In an interview with The Mirror, a former gambling addict tells reporters how he blew GBP200,000 on FOBTs. Simon Perfitt had a good job, but in ten years he went from a GBP50,000 salary to living on benefits after becoming hooked on the controversial machines. He blew up to GBP3,000 per day, he told reporters.

Simon says he didn’t start betting until de has 45, but it only took him ten years to lose all that money. In 2001, the businessman from Dudley was living a lavish lifestyle. He could afford it, thanks to his well-paid in e-commerce. He had also just moved in with his girlfriend. But after becoming addicted to gambling machines – he liked to play roulette – he lost all of his hard-earned money.

“These fixed odds betting terminals destroy you. I became addicted instantly after a friend who played the machines asked me to pop into a bookies one day and have a go. After that, all I thought about all day was gambling.”

“I worked to go on these machines and could spend up to 12 hours a day in there. I used to get up early and go in to the bookies before I went to work, at lunchtime and would go straight into one after work. Within 10 years I had lost GBP200,000, a relationship and my home as well. My whole personality changed. I became very introverted, made excuses not to see family and friends,” he told reporters.

FOBTs have been dubbed the crack cocaine of gambling and have been causing players to lose fortunes. These betting machines bring bookmakers GBP1.5 billion in profits every year.

The Telegraph: Councils to get power to ban new betting shops in blow for gaming industry

The Government said it would give local councils the power to stop new betting shops from opening in their towns. The administration intends to create a new planning class for betting shops, which would allow councils to monitor new applications more closely, as well as to veto them.

The measure is designed to limit concerns over the damaging effects of gambling machines, especially fixed-odds betting terminals, found inside most betting shops. Critics refer to them as “crack cocaine” gambling machines because of their addictive nature.

The industry is expected to oppose resistance to such measures. William Hill has already announced its intentions to close more than 100 betting shops, blaming it in the increased taxes on FOBTs. But even so, the gambling machines are the highly profitable and account for a large part of the land-based betting sector’s profits.

Sources cited by the Telegraph said the new gambling laws would also force companies to comply with protection measures, including promotions and window displays.

The Guardian: Maximum cash stake on fixed-odds betting terminals to be restricted

After anti-betting groups have voiced complaints over the damaging effect of FOBTs, the government said it would impose a GBP50 limit on the maximum wager allowed on these machines, instead of the higher GBP100 stake allowed at present.

The new rules would require anyone who wants to bet more than GBP50 at a time to inform staff. Gamblers would be given the alternative to open an online account, where their spending history can be tracked. Campaigners are still unsatisfied with the announced measures, claiming that ministers have “ducked the big issue” by not cutting the maximum bet in all circumstances.

Matt Zarb-Cousin of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling told reporters: “Staff intervention does not mean player protection. We know from academic studies that employee training is the most commonly tried method to control problem gambling and the least effective. Why would staff stop people from putting money into FOBTs when their pay depends on it?”

On the other hand, the Association of British Bookmakers said new measures would “restrict growth for the sector and mean hundreds of shops and thousands of jobs are now at risk”.

In an assessment released by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, officials argued that “account-based play allows players access to up-to-date information which can reduce biased or irrational gambling… and help people maintain control.”

“Making payments over the counter rather than on to the machine directly can provide opportunities for intervention which may give players a reality check,” it added.

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