FOBTs are not FUN – Stop Now!


Wanda Goldwag, the Chair and Independent Standards Commissioner of the Senet Group, says – “When the Fun stops – Stop” and the tagline of her apparently independent Senet Group is “Promoting Responsible Gambling Standards”

Wherever does this “fun” concept come from? Since when was gambling a laughing matter or a kids’ activity?

The Senet Group only promotes standards relating to advertising and marketing. Of the £3,000,000 funding provided by its members (Coral, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, William Hill and Scotbet), £2,251,000 was spent on “advertising and communications” out of a total spend of £2,677,000. There is no accounting for the money they spent on “aggressive” lobbying of Scottish politicians – coincidentally who are about to clamp down on FOBTs!

There were 35 complaints to the Senet Group in 2015 of which only one was upheld but no sanction applied. This was because human error caused the “responsible gambling messages” to be below the percentage standard for window dressing!

Ms Goldwag has about as much authority over the bookies as a hen in a fox’s den. Her CEO, Ron Findlay, also quit recently. Clearly the fun stopped for him.

Meanwhile all gambling sectors combined only contributed £6.5 million towards gambling research, education and treatment in 2015. Clearly the bookies are having more fun spending their loose change on Wanda.

How does Ms Goldwag profess to be independent when her salary is paid by the bookies, the standards she sets are agreed with the bookies and when the complaints procedure does not result in sanctions?

There is no evidence that “responsible gambling messages” have had any impact on reducing the totality of FOBT harm. Surely a better approach would be to deter anyone from FOBT gambling by promoting “FOBTs are not FUN – Stop Now!”

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