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.

They Think It’s All Dover…

There’s no doubt that UK ports such as Dover will be hit hard if no customs deal is reached during Brexit talks. But no one is talking about how Calais, Zeebrugge, Dublin, Santander, Dunkirk and a range of other EU ports will be hit just as hard…

The EU exports £240bn of goods to the UK each year.  It’s all well and good negotiators playing hardball by pushing trade discussions back but European jobs are at risk too.  Frictionless trade is in both side’s interests.  It’s time for a bit of pragmatism…

Content produced and sponsored by UK Chamber of Shipping

Lock Him Up!


The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is investigating online gambling firms about the ways they have been screwing gamblers over and breaching Consumer Protection Law.

Deceptive sign-up and bonus offers with unfair and non-transparent terms and conditions are pure evil. It takes a matter of seconds to deposit cash into a remote gambling site, but it can take days and sometimes weeks to withdraw funds. Players can “reverse” the withdrawal while it is still being processed which encourages gamblers to blow their winnings – something known as “the curse of the reverse”!

All this is bad enough but most of these firms went offshore to places like Gibraltar to avoid tax and strong regulations. Here the Gambling Commission is supposed to enforce the licensing objective that gambling is “fair and open”, but has failed to do so.

The Remote Gambling Association (RGA) is the body set up by the predatory online gambling firms to help them get away with screwing gamblers over. The head of that body is Clive Hawkswood, one of the parasites making a living from these screwed over gamblers.

The RGA has drafted “Fair, Honest, Safe and Fun – the case for cross border gambling in the EU”. It concludes that gambling is a “leisure” market activity and implies that the RGA is acting on behalf of consumers as there is a high demand for gambling.

Of course, this is all false. It is the supply and the deceptive offers that creates gambling demand and gambling is not a harmless leisure activity.  

It doesn’t take an economist to work out that if billions are lost on remote gambling sites and some of that cash is going offshore where it isn’t taxed, there is a negative impact on the economy. It’s time for Theresa May to crackdown on the remote gambling racket.

Content produced and sponsored by Campaign for Fairer Gambling

MayDUP Ban! Papers Refuse Paddy Power Arlene Kissing Theresa Advert

Paddy Power attempted to run this print advert offering a bet on the Conservative-DUP alliance to NOT survive 2017. Sadly it went almost as badly as Theresa May’s election campaign, after getting the heave-ho by not one, not two, but all of Britain’s newspapers. The advert in question pokes fun at the alliance, as well as at the DUP’s controversial stance on gay marriage, through an image of Theresa May and Arlene Foster kissing outside 10 Downing Street under the line: Unholy Union? Conservative-DUP Alliance To Not Survive 2017 – 3/1

You can’t blame them for their failed negotiations though – even the best would struggle. Isn’t that right, Theresa?

Following May’s dismal performance in the General Election earlier this month – which could be the kiss of death to her leadership – the British PM had been scrambling to secure a deal with the DUP to form a minority Conservative government. That deal was finally secured today but, with the alliance built on weak and wobbly foundations, Paddy Power are offering odds of just 3/1 (25% chance) for it to end this year.

Guido’s anonymous source on the Paddy Power marketing team says:

“After almost two weeks of negotiations, it looks like May and Foster have finally agreed on a deal, and what better way to seal it than with a kiss? Joking aside, we were surprised the newspapers didn’t take up our offer, as the subject matter has been on the nation’s lips ever since the general election.”

Newspapers were surprisingly prudish about this kiss ‘n tell story…

Content produced and sponsored by Paddy Power.

Screw EU! Paddy Power’s Giant Theresa Flips V-Sign

Paddy Power has erected a 110-ft Theresa May statue, offering Europe a two-fingered salute from the White Cliffs of Dover. Ahead of the embattled Prime Minister’s trip to Brussels on Thursday the mischievous bookmaker has offered her some ‘strong and stable’ support. Or, as they call it in Westminster – a ‘hard Brexit’…

The statue can be seen from Normandy, took a 12-man crew a full week to assemble, and sends a clear message to the UK’s soon-to-be former EU neighbours – even if the election didn’t. Paddy Power makes it odds on that more than one Prime Minister will be involved in Brexit talks (2/7) – and just 13/8 that a second General Election will be called this year…

The chances of May performing a U-Turn – her party piece – and deciding that the UK should instead Remain in the EU, are rated at 20/1A Paddy Power spokesman said:

We tried to make the installation look as life-like as possible to Theresa May – which is why it’s two-dimensional and largely wooden. During construction, it was both strong and stable, but soon went weak and wobbly when the winds changed – about as stable as a partnership with the DUP.”

The structure is of such a scale that the fingernails alone are more than five-foot long. And Theresa’s legs are a huge 10-metres tall, the equivalent of almost six Jeremy Corbyns…

Paddy Power Brexit specials:

  • 2/7 More than one UK PM is involved in Brexit negotiations
  • 13/8 Another General Election is called this year
  • 3/1 UK to fail to reach agreement with the EU over a Brexit deal before the March 2019 deadline
  • 4/1 A second EU Referendum to be held before 2019
  • 7/2 The UK to apply to re-join the EU within ten years
  • 20/1 Theresa May to perform a U-turn and announce that the UK will Remain

Content produced and sponsored by Paddy Power

Recapping the Betting

How did you do with your election betting? Over at Paddy Power Guido looks back on the betting and the tipping. Find out who is Guido’s tip for the chop….

Next Labour Leader Runners & Riders

Guido has taken a look at the runners and riders to be the next Labour Party leader over at Paddy Power. Find out who is Guido’s 7/1 tip for the top….

YouGov’s Shock Poll: Should You Be Betting on a Hung Parliament?

This morning’s YouGov poll showing a hung parliament as a likely outcome has moved the pound and the betting markets. Guido has taken a look at the polling and the betting. Get some betting perspective and a tip over at Paddy Power.

Labour’s Pop in the Polls: Blip or Trend?

Labour have popped in the polls after Theresa May’s manifesto went down particularly badly over the so called “dementia tax”. Should you be betting on Labour to win more seats? Get some betting perspective over at Paddy Power.

Ex-Top Cop Helps Easier Money-Laundering

You might not have heard of Keith Bristow, but he’s the ex-Director General of the National Crime Agency. He was recently made Chair of the Gambling Anti-Money Laundering Group, (GAMLG) whose members consist of the Association of British Bookmakers and the Remote Gambling Association.

New money laundering regulations have recently been introduced requiring those gambling more than £1,500 to be identified. However, it seems that this applies to all except “proven low-risk” gambling sectors.

The Gambling Commission has always thought of betting shops and online gambling as high-risk sectors – that is until Mr Bristow weaved his magic.

By “sexing up” the risk assessment, GAMLG convinced the Treasury that instead of being 86% high risk, as the regulator had assessed, betting shops were just 25% high-risk. This is despite bookies’ FOBTs allowing up to £50 a spin without a name check, and up to £100 a spin with a loyalty card – even without name verification.

GAMLG then proposed “controls” claiming that these would reduce betting shop high-risk factors from 25% down to 0%. The Treasury accepted the GAMLG’s propaganda and excused betting shops and remote betting from the new regulations.

Betting shop FOBTs have also regularly been identified as money laundering machines for drug dealers. A Birmingham Court recently found a drug dealer from Cardiff had laundered over a million pounds through Ladbrokes. The Gambling Commission is yet to announce any sanctions for Ladbrokes.

When anyone gets into bed with the bookies there’s a good chance of reputational harm.

But for Bristow, the opportunity to line his pockets was too good to turn down.

Content produced and sponsored by Campaign for Fairer Gambling

“Responsible” Gambling Mandarin Should Abide By The Principles

Sir Christopher Kelly enjoyed a civil service career, becoming Chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life. The principles of public life are selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.

However, Sir Chris made the mistake of thinking he was capable of heading the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB) which has formed the National Responsible Gambling Strategy for years.

He set the questions for the highly controversial “independent” research into FOBTs by the Responsible Gambling Trust (RGT), an organisation so toxic that it had to re-brand as GambleAware. The RGT research was the basis upon which ex-PM David Cameron told the House that there was going to have a “proper look” at FOBTs.

But Sir Chris “forgot” to ask any questions about FOBT stakes. He is critical of simulation research but “forgets” to mention that the bookies refused to allow non-simulated research in betting shops.

He states that data from FOBTs acquired by the Gambling Commission provides “real evidence” but neither the RGSB nor the Gambling Commission has bothered to explain what the “evidence” in the data actually is, or what it means.

How can anyone not gambling, not talking to gamblers and not independently visiting gambling premises purport to understand gambling?  

The media, political and public attention on the continued disaster of FOBTs are a reflection of the failings of the RGSB and the strategy under Sir Christopher Kelly.

From the perspective of the principles of public life – maybe it’s time for him to retire.

Content produced and sponsored by Campaign for Fairer Gambling

The Bookies’ QC is a Smooth Silk

Paul Darling QC, Chair of the Association of British Bloodsuckers (Bookmakers – Ed) (ABB), is so smooth that at the ABB 2017 AGM he said of betting shops: “In my view they are community hubs, they’re a key part of employment in the local communities, just as they are a place of vibrancy and an important opportunity to socialise for many customers.”

Let’s imagine for a second how else he might sell the betting shop experience in 2017 and it could go a little something like this…

“The diverse community hubs cater for East Londoners, Eastern Europeans, East Asians, East Africans and more, with 20 different languages on “self-service” betting terminals to assist with integration into gambling.

The bookies employ FOBTs, automated cash extraction machines, which avoid blowing the whistle on money launderers. Even when FOBTs get damaged, the machine health and safety repairs team soon get then up and running again so that the FOBTs never bother HR.

Customers socialising in these hubs include the homeless, the mentally ill, the addicts and the underage. Other customers help support the hubs through “charitable” cash donations to FOBTs from the drug-dealing, pimping, thieving, benefit fraud and tax evasion communities.

The colourful linguistic expressions of frustrated players as the FOBT speeds up roulette and creates the illusion of the spinning wheel and ball with addictive near misses, provides a unique electric vibrancy.   

There are so many local authorities who must be so happy that these hubs are clustered together. The proposal by them under the Sustainable Communities Act must surely be for a £2 minimum stake per spin on FOBTs, rather than a £2 maximum?”

Of course, 100 local authorities want the stake reduced from £100 to £2 for a reason!

Content produced and sponsored by Campaign for Fairer Gambling

Steve Donoughue: A Westminster Prowler

Steve Donoghue is the secretariat of the Betting and Gaming Group led by Philip Davies MP. He acted as an unpaid secretariat to a Culture, Media and Sports Committee that visited casinos in Macau and Australia, with Mr Davies and John Whittingdale MP. This Committee only visited one UK betting shop and recommended more FOBTs per shop in 2012!

Mr Donoughue spoke about Mr Whittingdale, at a recent Westminster eforum saying that: “He told me that he didn’t give crap about FOBTs“. A FOBT review was denied when Mr Whittingdale was in charge at DCMS.

Other comments by Mr. Dongouhue at that event were:

“Horseracing has a fabulous lobby in Parliament, 60 MPs because of 60 racecourses, every Lord owns a horse or is married to one…

“Evidence based is bollocks, it’s what you do as politician when you are trying to back up the reason to do something…

“I deal with politicians on a daily basis, they don’t know what an FOBT is, they don’t care…

“The National Lottery is evil, it’s the most awful form of gambling there is, telling the idiots they can change their lives.”

Mr Donoghue has also acted as consultant for bookies.  Maybe that is what he is doing dealing with politicians daily – representing the same views as the Association of British Bloodsuckers (Bookmakers)

His daddy, Lord Donoughue, helps out the bookies by running the Starting Price Regulation Committee, ensuring that horserace punters get fair final odds returned on winners – right?

Content produced and sponsored by Campaign for Fairer Gambling

The Clock is Ticking for FOBTs and the ABB

The “tick, tock” of a clock was all that could be heard at the ABB HQ on Buckingham Palace Road last week. A silent gloom has descended over the bookmakers’ trade body.

After a frenzied few weeks of spinning, lying, blustering, wining and dining, Malcolm George (CEO) and his “crack” team of lobbyists were told “brace yourselves” by former DCMS Minister John Whittingdale – the man who once protected their beloved “crack cocaine machines”.

As he addressed the bookies’ annual meeting in London, he warned them that “significant” changes will soon be announced. The latest rumour swirling round is that an announcement and decision on the £1.8 billion a year machines is very near and the news isn’t good for the bookies and their trade body.

Former Ed Balls’ Chief of Staff, turned bookie lobbyist, Gary Follis was dispatched to seek help to avoid Armageddon as local journalists were sent into betting shops by their news desks on missions to get addicted to the machines.

As Councils, Councilors, MPs, MSPs, AMs, push forward with their demands for fewer betting shops on their high streets, the ABB granted their wish referencing a “confidential” report they had commissioned which showed a small number of betting shops could close in each Parliamentary constituency in England, Scotland and Wales should stakes be cut. For the Council leading calls for stakes to be cut to £2, losing a couple of their 84 betting shops might not be enough.

As the clock ticks, the ABB and their bookmaker members wait for the inevitable.

Content produced and sponsored by Stop the FOBTS.

Clueless and Crazy

HSBC analysts estimated that share prices are building in a cut to a maximum limit of £10-£20” was the warning from city analysts as bookmaker share prices went from “buy, buy, buy” to “hold” and then “bloody well sell as quick as you can”. 

The impending regulatory clamp down on the bookies’ two golden geese, FOBTs and advertising, has got CEOs and budding CEOs in a right spin. One such aspiring CEO, Philip Bowcock, was trying to maneuver himself into pole position for the top job at William Hill and proudly announced his solution for the Government stating: we are sympathetic to some sort of curb or some sort of review around the level of advertising”.

Someone better wake up bright spark Bowcock. The Government just held “some sort of review” and is planning “some sort of curbs”. As well as being clueless on the political front, he isn’t that sure about Hills’ company status either stating, “you could say that we are a little bit more corporate”. That’s right Phil – the big blue company you have today been put in charge of, is a PLC!

Over in the red corner, Ladbrokes CEO Jim Mullen continued his FOBT crazy tirade claiming: “ministers are gambling with the jobs of thousands over betting terminals”. He urged ministers and MPs to step back from the fray and take a serious look at the facts”.

However, as ministers and MPs opened their newspapers the next day, the evidence and the facts hit them that Mr Mullen is gambling with the lives of his staff every single day with another lost life just this week!

Content produced and sponsored by Campaign for Fairer Gambling

The One-Man Lobbying Machine

Marc Etches’ dream of Vegas-style casinos and £1m jackpots is coming true”, was the prediction made in 2004 by the man who now heads up the bookmaker funded, and recently rebranded, Gamble Aware.

Etches who headed up the doomed bid to turn Blackpool into the UK’s Las Vegas was described as “the gambling lobby’s most visible face” and “a one man lobbying machine”. No wonder the bookies kept him on as CEO when they rebranded their discredited Responsible Gambling Trust after its Chairman was found lobbying to defend FOBTs.

Despite Etches narrowly avoiding the chop, word has it that the Parliamentary Office of Information Science and Technology is investigating UK gambling research and their early comments should spark a little concern for the one-man lobbyist “..with funding and research grant awarding largely determined by the industry-funded RGT. There is a debate as to what extent this arrangement encourages high quality independent research on gambling to take place.” There certainly is!

More direct criticism of Etches came from the recent All Party Parliamentary Group Inquiry into FOBTs which noted “… the Group urges [the RGT] to consider undertaking research in this important area [FOBT stake reduction] and was not convinced by their explanation as to why they had not.”

You may not have heard of Marc Etches, but this “one man lobbying machine” has been and remains to be, the bookmakers’ “Maginot Line” defending FOBTs, but in the end we all know what happened to that!

Content produced and sponsored by Campaign for Fairer Gambling (CFFG)

Now The Bookies Have Gone Nuclear, Who Will Be To Blame For The Fallout?

Analysts are forecasting problems for the betting industry” warned an industry trade magazine last week, as bookmakers pressed the nuclear button in their latest offensive to protect FOBTs.

Share prices have dropped, sounds from Government aren’t good and in an echo of the Pay Day money lender battle, even the Church is now taking on FOBTs. The penny has finally dropped at the ABB HQ, that the game is very nearly up for their £100 stake roulette machines.

So, they’ve launched their nuclear option – dishing the dirt on MPs, their industry colleagues and spinning a stream of lies to any journalists still listening to them.

As the Independent commentedWhat do you do if you’re having trouble countering your opponent’s argument? You shout a lot and wave your fists and try and obscure it with smoke and steam. Which is what the ABB has done here and explains why the fire brigade might want to hightail it down to its offices.”

Rumour has it one “leading” CEO is claiming he wants to cut the stakes on FOBTs, but “fears for his job” if he speaks up! Real bookmakers have never had any trouble speaking up – “FOBT machines really frighten me as they’re so addictive”.

Now the Bookies have gone nuclear, they can only blame themselves for the fallout that lands on their betting shop doorsteps. The ABB’s CEO Malcolm George will need to get his radiation suit on!

Content produced and sponsored by Campaign for Fairer Gambling.

Government To Hire Porn Watching Bureaucrats

The Digital Economy Bill will force all websites that display porn to age verify their users – forcing any Brit wanting to look at risqué websites to enter their personal details into a government-backed plugin. Not only could this open UK internet users up to state-sponsored hacking and Ashley Maddison style leaks, in practice it means the government is going to have to hire a load of bureaucrats to check whether a website contains porn or not. Do MPs really know what they are letting themselves in for? 

The BBFC which currently categorise films will decide whether to ban websites in the UK for failing to add age checks. If they try to ban every pornographic website that doesn’t behave itself, this could cost tens of millions of pounds. That’s great news if you want a new job watching porn all day at the taxpayer’s expense…

The bill gives the BBFC the power to ban millions of websites without getting a court order – China style – if they don’t comply, even if the content on these sites is perfectly legal. Twitter and Facebook may have to block accounts from non-compliant porn sites. Theresa May’s proposals would make Mary Whitehouse blush…

If, like the Open Rights Group, you don’t want Chinese restrictions on the internet, sign here:

Content produced and sponsored by the Open Rights Group

Shining a Light on Fred Done

Punters stood bemused and dazed in Betfred betting shops up and down the country last week as Fred Done announced he’d just lifted £32 million from their pockets and then turned their televisions off on them!

Fred, who has finally dragged his ever-struggling business back into the black, decided to pull the plug on live racing pictures to his shops just as his cheque cleared at the bank. As punters stood staring at blank screens in Fred’s shops, William Hill staff ran to the rescue shining torches into his shops shouting “there is light at the end of the road – in our shops”.

Pay day money lender Fred, renowned for his scrooge like manner, poured his heart out in an open letter and stuck a 2nd class stamp on it, proclaiming “draconian action to limit stakes on FOBTs, would leave the racing industry irretrievably damaged.”

Conveniently overlooking the fact he had just switched off live racing broadcast to his shops and was refusing to cough up to the racing industry, Fred pleaded “don’t take my FOBTs away”.

Charlie Brookes at the Telegraph took umbrage with Fred and Ladbrokes, who also switched the TVs off. At the same time as cutting live racing pictures to their shops and broadcasting pirated pictures instead, they were pressuring the racing industry to support them on FOBTs. The bookmakers get smarter by the day!

Content produced and sponsored by Stop the FOBTs


Theresa May is jetting off to meet Donald Trump tomorrow, under pressure to simultaneously criticise his chauvinistic actions while convincing him to support post-Brexit Britain. The Prime Minister will almost certainly be on her high heels, but will need to climb down from her high horse pretty rapidly if she’s to get the newly empowered President on side. […] Read the rest


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