What is a FOBT?

That was the question raised last week in comments relating to our latest Guido post – “Count Snowdon and the bloodsuckers are not libertarians”.

When googling FOBT a few years ago, the top link was to Faecal Occult Blood Test, but google FOBT today, and the top link is to Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. However, unlike the former which saves lives and the NHS money, the latter ruin lives, take lives and cost the NHS money – taxpayer’s money.

Wikipedia gives the FOBT illiterate an overview but omits some key points.

  1. The bookies introduced them illegally in 1999 and operated them illegally until the Blair government, aided by a little bit of cosying up from the bookies, granted them legitimacy in 2005.
  2. The bookies called them “betting terminals” to side step legislation that prevented them from having gaming machines.
  3. There is empirical evidence that shows they have a fourfold correlation with problem gambling, above all other gambling products in the UK.
  4. Every minister involved in their legitimisation has since admitted they “got it wrong”. Including Tessa Jowell, David Blunkett and Harriet Harman – but not Blair himself of course!

When it comes to FOBTs and their massive £100 stakes and £1.7 billion of profits, the question is, how come they aren’t in Bingo Halls, Amusement Arcades and Pubs? Firstly, because Blair helped his friends at the bookies to protect their monopoly on them, but secondly and more importantly, the other sectors don’t want them.

So, should libertarians really be supporting the consequences of corporate illegal activity and a protected monopoly?

Content produced and sponsored by Stop the FOBTs




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John Curtice on fiscal policy:

“Attitudes to taxation and spending are basically counter-cyclical. If a government comes in and tries to reduce spending and taxation, after a while people will get worried about the state of public services. If a government increases taxation and public spending, after a while they’ll get concerned about increasing taxation…. In as much as there are lots of ideologues out there who think the state should be this proportion of GDP, they’re all wrong. Because the public’s view is counter-cyclical to the recent experience. It’s basically impossible to satisfy the public.”

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