By special reporter Fill Graph
Britain’s betting shops are now the “most violent in the world” was the Daily Mirror headline last week, following the start of a Parliamentary inquiry into “crack cocaine” gambling machines.
With 999 calls from betting shops reaching record levels, attacks on machines and staff spiraling out of control – all in the same week the gambling regulator revealed that losses on the now infamous FOBTs had reached a record high at £1.7 billion.
Digging deeper the actual amount lost on betting shop FOBTs has increased in the last 18-months by £130 million or 8.3%. So bookies’ profits from the crack cocaine machines are increasing per machine and per shop.
Yet, over this same 18-month period betting shop customers have been bombarded with “responsible gambling” messages. They’ve been “protected” by a bookmaker established and funded watch dog that has so far failed to bark at anything. They have seen government led measures pushing them to sign up to loyalty cards allowing bookmakers to pursue them for more money by email and text message. So much so – since 2012 the bookmakers who are crying poverty over tighter regulations and higher taxes have only managed to spend £0.5 billion on TV marketing.
As the bookies FOBT bandwagon rolls on, so does the retiring Chair of the Gambling Commission Philip Graf, who will be speaking at the Royal Society of Arts on Tuesday July 19. His latest statistics, whilst trying to mask the rising figures behind the FOBT juggernaut steam-rolling our high streets, can’t hide the fact that every measure to tackle the issue under his Chairmanship of the regulator, has failed and failed miserably.
As Fill Graph says “Commission statistics do not highlight the FOBT truth – that more FOBT profits mean more FOBT addicts and more FOBT crime!”
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