MP’s support for FOBTs at odds with campaign against male suicide

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Late last year, Philip Davies MP led a debate on men’s suicide to coincide with International Men’s Day. He spoke passionately about how “over the last 30 years… more than 130,000 men have taken their own life” and “given that there was an increase in suicides in 2013, the figure for that year is nearly 5,000 men.”

“There are a number of things that are likely to affect men more than women – for example, being in debt,” continued Mr. Davies, “…financial worries can play a big part.”

In 2014, Lee Murphy tragically took his own life after amassing £30,000 of debts on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs). The National Council on Problem Gambling estimates that about 80% of those with a gambling addiction consider suicide, and one in five attempts it. That’s roughly twice the rate of other addictions.

It is likely to be even higher for those that use FOBTs. Research published last month found that gambling on electronic gambling machines in gambling halls or bars were linked to suicidal events in pathological gamblers, whereas other types of gambling were not.

So what has Mr. Davies done about FOBTs, which allow players to lose up to £100 a spin in high street betting shops?

Well, in 2012 he was part of the Select Committee that recommended allowing bookmakers more than four FOBTs per betting shop after he had enjoyed hospitality from Ladbrokes. He was forced to apologise for failing to declare it before quizzing the Ladbrokes CEO, and in 2014 he held a meeting with influential bookie lobbyists in full view of Portcullis House.

As a passionate campaigner against male suicide, it is surely time for Mr. Davies to acknowledge the impact of high speed, high stakes gambling, and support reducing the maximum stake on FOBTs to £2 a spin?

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