Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors

Fixed Odds Betting Terminals

All council motions articles
Monday, 8th December, 2014

FOBT FOBT

Draft press release

LOCAL LIB DEMS CALL ON [NAME] OF COUNCIL TO END “HIGH STREET TAKE –OVER” BY BOOKIES

Liberal Democrat Councillor [name] is calling on [name] council to join forces with over 90 authorities up and down the country calling on the government to halt the proliferation of high street bookies in local communities.

The proposal demands that the maximum stakes on gaming machines, also known as fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs), inside betting shops be reduced from £100 a spin to £2 – bringing them in line with other gaming machines.

Big-name chains have been targeting the country’s high streets, especially in more deprived areas. There are double the number of betting shops in the 55 most deprived areas of England, compared to the 115 most affluent localities.

Each betting shop can operate up to four betting terminals, these offer casino-style games which allow bets of up to £100 every 20 seconds.

[name of councillor] said: “Local authorities have been fighting hard to ensure the viability of the nation’s high streets, but our battle with the betting shops has been thwarted by the lack of tough regulations and the toothless court system.

“Both I and the local Liberal Democrats hope that [our council] will add its support. We were delighted that the recent Lib Dem conference saw the party call for action on this issue.

“And the recent Smith Commission recommended Scotland should have powers to address this issue – so the same should apply to England.”

An Ipsos Mori poll in November 2014 found that 70 per cent of respondents
believed that the maximum bet of £100 on FOBTS is too much. And a YouGov survey from April 2014 saw 61 per cent of respondents supporting a reduction on the maximum stake to £2 per spin, bringing them in line with other gaming machines.

[if you have a concern over a local high street or running a campaign already, make sure you mention it]
ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS
• [name] council currently has xxxx betting shops

• The Sustainable Communities Act became law in 2007, establishing a process where councils can urge central government to assist in “promoting the sustainability of local communities”.

• Earlier this year the Campaign for Fairer Gambling published a report that highlighted that the 55 most deprived areas of England have double the number of betting shops, compared to the 115 most affluent authorities:
http://www.stopthefobts.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/National-mediapack.zip

• There is significant crime and anti-social behaviour associated with betting
shops. According to Gambling Commissioning data 9,308 incidents related to
gambling activity in betting shops required police assistance in 2013/14 in
England, an average call out of 179 times a week to bookmakers.

The Smith Commission recommended the Scottish Parliament having the power to “prevent the proliferation of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals” last week https://www.smith-commission.scot/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/The_Smith_Commission_Report-1.pdf
Draft letter to your local paper

I am sure many readers will agree that people should be encouraged to gamble responsibly.

So I am pleased that the recent Lib Dem conference saw the party call for action to crack down on the amount of money that can be gambled per “spin” on fixed odds betting terminals.

One Fixed Odds Betting Terminal machine alone can see £18,000 gambled in an hour, far exceeding the level of other gaming machines found in bingo halls and arcades. A recent poll found that 70 per cent of people believed that the maximum bet of £100 on FOBTs is too much.

And the Smith Commission has just recommended Scotland should have powers to address this issue – so the same should apply to England.

This would bring them into line with other gaming machines and help curb unregulated casino-style gambling on the nation’s high streets.

This proposal has the formal support of over 90 councils, making it the largest ever submission under the Sustainable Communities Act. This illustrates the widespread concern about the issue and I am asking my local council to act on this as well.

Councils have limited power to act on behalf of residents despite betting shop
clustering blighting local communities and causing an increase in anti-social
behaviour.

This Sustainable Communities Act proposal calls on the Government to reduce the stakes on FOBTs in on-street betting shops from £100 to £2 per spin. This reduction is simple; it does not require a change in legislation, and instead can be undertaken through the regular review of stakes by Government.

Without Government action the blight of too many bookies will continue and ultimately we will lose the vibrant, diverse, beating hearts of our communities.

Yours sincerely,

Draft motion to your local council (list of councils currently signed up are listed below the motion)

This council notes:
1. The prevalence of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) in betting shops, often referred to in the media as “the crack cocaine of gambling”.
2. That, unlike fruit machines in pubs, bingo halls and amusement arcades where cash stakes are limited to £2, gamblers can bet with cash or via a debit card up to £100 every 20 seconds on FOBTs, more than four times as fast as the rate of play in casinos.
3. That in 2012, over £1.5bn was lost on FOBTs across the UK. More profit was made from FOBTs than from the National Lottery, when according to the most recent British Gambling Prevalence Survey, 56% of the population play the Lottery, but just 4% play FOBTs.
4. Empirical evidence that suggests FOBTs are the most addictive form of gambling.
5. Research carried out by Geofutures, which found there to be four times as many betting shops in areas of high unemployment than in areas of low unemployment.
6. Research carried out by 2CV in Newham, which found that the average bet per spin on FOBTs is £17, and the average amount of cash inserted into the machine is £55 per session, with one in five putting in over £100 a time.
7. Nationally, more than 80% of turnover in betting shops and more than half of profits are derived from FOBTs. Less than 20% of stakes in betting shops are over the counter.
8. A recent economic analysis undertaken by Landman Economics, commissioned by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, which assessed the impact of FOBTs on local economies and across the wider economy. The report concluded that every £1bn spent on FOBTs produces a net reduction of 13,000 jobs, compared to if spent in the wider consumer economy. The projected doubling of revenue from FOBTs by 2023 could cost a further 23,000 jobs across the economy.
9. Concern that the Government has not addressed the issues caused by FOBTs, and the announcement made by Maria Miller MP, Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, on 10th October 2013 in response to the Triennial Review of gaming machine stakes and prizes,where the stakes on FOBTs were unchanged.
10. The Government has proposed measures that will require players who wish to stake over £50 per spin to seek permission from staff. This wrongly implies stakes up to £50 are safe, and that staff intervention is an effective means of ensuring player protection.
11. The position in the Republic of Ireland where the Government has introduced legislation to outlaw FOBTs in betting shops.
This council believes that the increase in FOBTs is causing significant problems and believes that the Government should either use the existing legislative framework, or introduce legislation to outlaw B2 casino games in betting shops. At the very least, local authorities should be given the powers to protect the local amenity and wellbeing of communities by (1) stopping the proliferation of betting shops and (2) reducing the maximum stakes and slowing down the speed of play.

This council therefore requests:
1. The Chief Executive writes to Helen Grant MP recommending a reduction in the maximum bet per spin on FOBTs to £2
2. The Chief Executive writes to Sir Robin Wales, the Mayor of the London Borough of Newham, declaring this Councils support for their proposal under the Sustainable Communities Act, which calls on the Government to reduce the maximum bet per spin on FOBTs to £2
Note – Councils currently supporting this are:
Amber Valley
Ashford
Barking
Barnet
Barnsley
Bexley
Birmingham
Blackpool
Bolton
Bournemouth
Bradford
Brent
Brighton and Hove
Bristol
Bromley
Burnley
Camden
Canterbury
Cheshire East
Cheshire West and Chester
Colchester
Croydon
Coventry
Crawley
Dudley
Durham
Ealing
East Staffordshire
Enfield
Exeter City Council
Fareham
Gravesham
Greenwich
Hackney
Hammersmith and Fulham
Haringey
Harrow
Havering
Herefordshire
Hillingdon
Hounslow
Hyndburn
Ipswich
Islington
Kensington and Chelsea
Kingston
Knowsley
Lambeth
Lancaster
Leeds
Leicester City Council
Lewisham
Liverpool
Luton
Manchester
Merton
Middlesbrough
Newcastle
Newcastle-under-Lyme
Newham
North Tyneside
Northumberland
Norwich
Nottingham City Council
Oadby and Wigston
Oldham
Peterborough
Plymouth City Council
Preston
Reading
Redbridge
Richmond
Rochdale
Rossendale
Sandwell
Sefton
Selby
Southampton
Southwark
Stockton on Tees
Stoke-on-Trent
Sunderland
Sutton
Swansea
Torbay
Tower Hamlets
Wakefield
Waltham Forest
Wandsworth
Warrington
Windsor and Maidenhead
Wolverhampton

More information on the campaign can be found at: http://www.stopthefobts.org/

John Bridges