For Whom the Lord Bell Toiled

Last month, Lord Bell appeared on Newsnight fronting up the disgraced Bell Pottinger, the PR spinners he co-founded, which has now been dissolved. Re-wind a few years and his Lordship was fronting up another disgraceful entity.

In 2013, he was the guest of honour at the annual shindig of the Association of British Bloodsuckers (Bookmakers – Ed) – the ABB. According to Private Eye, he encouraged them to take a leaf out of the tobacco lobby’s playbook and believe “your opponents are wrong, and the moment you start acknowledging that they have an argument, you’re dead”.

It must have had an impact as Malcolm George, now CEO of the ABB, still claims that betting shops are the safest places to gamble.

Back then, the ABB Chair, Neil Goulden, was also Chair of the Responsible Gambling Trust (RGT). Guess who did the PR spin on the RGT’s whitewash research into FOBTs? Yes, Bell Pottinger!

When the RGT met with the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board to discuss the FOBT research whitewash, guess who was in the room with them? Yes, Bell Pottinger!

It was also reported that Lord Bell had advised the ABB to acquire the royal seal of approval – which would have made them the Royal Association of British Bookmakers.

It will take more than bookies’ PR spin to avoid their pending seal of disapproval from the government’s FOBT review.

Content produced and sponsored by Stop the FOBTS.

mdi-timer 5 October 2017 @ 08:00 5 Oct 2017 @ 08:00 mdi-comment Comments
Sock-puppet “charity” the IEA slapped down by regulator for general election bias

Somehow, the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) enjoys charitable status, which means they are not required to disclose who funds them. This allows the IEA to carry out its work of lobbying for deregulation without being accused of a conflict of interest.

Charities, of course, are not permitted to be politically partisan. So, the IEA decision to publish a report with the Taxpayers’ Alliance on “Policy Proposals for a Conservative Manifesto”, and to put out a press release entitled “Labour’s manifesto pledges would add at least £40bn to public spending”, were in breach of Charity Commission guidelines. As a result the regulator insisted that these were withdrawn.

The IEA’s report “The Crack Cocaine of Gambling?”, which called into question the demonstrably addictive features of £100 a spin FOBTs in betting shops, suggests a commercial relationship with the bookmakers that the IEA’s charitable status has concealed.

It is laughable that the report’s author, Chris Snowdon, writes for Spectator Health when he is effectively a lobbyist for the tobacco, sugar and gambling industries by proxy. It says a lot about the Association of British Bloodsuckers (aka Bookmakers) that only the IEA are prepared to make their case for them, an organisation for whom freedom only means freedom for corporations.

The BBC should cease inviting anyone from the IEA onto its programmes until the IEA declares all funding sources.

Content produced and sponsored by Stop the FOBTS.

mdi-timer 26 July 2017 @ 10:00 26 Jul 2017 @ 10:00 mdi-comment Comments
Bookie self-regulator goes into hiding as gambling sites found to be ripping people off

An eight-month investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has revealed that people are not getting the deals they expected from gambling sign-up promotions, and sites are unfairly holding on to customers’ money. The CMA said it was taking action against “a number of operators” suspected of breaking the law.

Nisha Arora from the CMA said: “New customers are being enticed by tempting promotions only to find the dice are loaded against them. And players can find a whole host of hurdles in their way when they want to withdraw their money.” Adding that customers were sometimes forced to play hundreds of times before they were allowed to withdraw their money, denying them the choice to “quit while they’re ahead.”

Ten years since the enactment of the Gambling Act and the formation of the Gambling Commission, this is a conclusion that millions of gamblers have been painfully aware of.

If the Senet Group, the industry-funded self-regulator, actually did what it says it does: “promote responsible gambling standards and ensure that the marketing of gambling is socially responsible” this would not be an issue, so proving that self-regulation does not work.

Wanda Goldwag, the “independent standards commissioner” appointed by the Senet Group, who regularly shows up in Westminster with PR spin initiatives, has gone silent and missing since the CMA news that her members could be subject to legal actions.

Wanda – where are you?  

Content produced and sponsored by Stop the FOBTS.

mdi-timer 12 July 2017 @ 15:55 12 Jul 2017 @ 15:55 mdi-comment Comments
Making a Marc

Bookmakers battered as Government cracks down on ‘crack cocaine’ machines” screamed a Telegraph headline last week, bringing a leprechaun’s smile to former Paddy Power boss, Stewart Kenny, who had been calling for such action for some years.

You got it, another big bookmaking boss came out against the “crack cocaine” of gambling. Mr Kenny told the Irish Government, “Let us learn from the mistake in the UK of allowing them into betting offices. Once they are in it is impossible to get rid of them or even curb their more addictive elements.” He joined the growing ranks of industry insiders, (which includes another former Paddy power boss), who are all urging action on FOBTs.

Though the Telegraph headline may have been a little presumptuous as the Government hasn’t yet announced a “crackdown” on FOBTs, but an All Party Parliamentary Group has. The cross-party group of MPs has backed a stake cut saying “Government now has clear case for significantly reducing the £100 stake”.

So, MPs from all Parties, the media, the Scottish and Welsh Governments, the public and an increasing number of bookmakers themselves all want action on FOBTs, whilst just 4% of the public are in favour of keeping them!

Marc Etches, the CEO of “Gamble Aware” – the rebranded version of the bookmakers’ FOBT lobbying vehicle, hasn’t yet caught up with the times. He is still trying to persuade the Government NOT to act and joins an ever-decreasing club of industry CEOs desperately clinging to FOBTs (or their bonuses to be more precise).

As the Campaign told the Scottish Daily Record, those who continue to defend FOBTs will have blood on their hands.

Content produced and sponsored by Stop the FOBTs

mdi-timer 16 December 2016 @ 14:33 16 Dec 2016 @ 14:33 mdi-comment Comments
Philip Davies MP – Bookies Leading Tool in Parliament Needs Suspending

MP_Philip_Davies

Tory MP Philip Davies was the clear leader of a group of MPs exposed in a recent Private Eye article, for accepting freebie hospitality trips from the bookies. Caroline Nokes, another Tory MP and John Mann, Jim Dowd, Justin Madders and Toby Perkins from the Labour Party all accepted around £500/600 in freebies from the lobbying bookies, but Davies beat them all with £3,000 of freebies.

What makes Davies, who besides having a bit of a problem with women, is anti-gay marriage and thinks disabled people should work for less, so popular and valuable to the bookmakers? He’s the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Betting and Gaming Group.

This is a group that produces glossy brochures after inviting bookmakers and their cohorts to make speeches. Those speakers include bookmaker trade chief, Malcolm George, who took exception to a article about his pants being on fire. Did Schillings, the bookie’s lawyers, set off a fire extinguisher? If so, why are Mr George’s pants still burning strongly?

No-one who opposes bookies’ FOBTs (the high-stake, high-speed roulette machines) is ever invited to speak by Davies. As a result, Parliamentarians get a bookie-biased briefing organised by a man who gets a raft of freebies from them! This financial interest was not disclosed in a glossy brochure that he sent to the Parliamentarians.

Whether or not the Tories suspend Mr Davies for his “feminist zealot” views, he should be suspended for financial interest and non-disclosure.

Davies has no shame where he takes his freebies from and has a lot of form with the bookies, but other MPs should be wondering why the bookies are now so keen to “freebie” them!

Content produced and sponsored by Stop the FOBTs

mdi-timer 17 August 2016 @ 15:45 17 Aug 2016 @ 15:45 mdi-comment Comments
Retiring Gambling Commission Chair Failings Exposed

philip graf 7

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!”

Sponsored by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling

mdi-timer 19 July 2016 @ 10:48 19 Jul 2016 @ 10:48 mdi-comment Comments
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