Since the turn of the year there has been a considerable amount of media attention focused on betting shops, and particularly electronic gaming machines. Much of the media coverage wrongly accuses the industry of targeting deprived areas and claims that machines are highly addictive.
Many are making accusations based on anecdotal evidence and half-truths.
As highlighted in the report:
“Existing evidence does not support the claim that fixed-odds betting terminals have led to a nationwide rise in problem gambling, nor do the data suggest that these machines are uniquely ‘addictive’ or seductive.”
As a responsible business sector, the industry accepts there needs to be a proper look at whether there is a problem and if that is evidence-based, the industry will support that.
But we also feel that it is important for the contribution we make to the national and local economies to be recognised. That is why we welcomed the comments of Dacorum Borough Council’s licensing team leader, Ross Hill, who says:
“Bookmakers are a long-standing part of the High Street, providing jobs and bringing empty units back into use. They bring extra customers into our town.”
Speaking of the evidence, one of the most recent sources we have available to us is the 2012 Health Survey for England.
BBC News online recently ran an article exploring problem gambling in the UK, citing the 2012 Health Survey which found that fewer than one in 100 people in England are ‘problem gamblers’. What’s more, it found that gambling prevalence was highest among higher income households than those in the lowest.
In the BBC news article above, Peter Craske of the ABB explains how the industry is committed to doing everything it can to help the government and society tackle this issue.Since 2010 there has been a 40% drop in the level of problem gambling, and participation on gaming machines has dropped from 4% to 3%.
The introduction of voluntary limits and mandatory alerts as part of a new code for player protection and responsible gambling designed to help minimise gambling related harm.Problem gambling is a complex matter and, unfortunately, there is no silver bullet in addressing this issue. At the ABB, we believe that there are a number of ways to help those that get into difficulty. That is why we have recently brought forward a range of measures through our new code for player protection and responsible gambling which includes
The industry never stops looking at ways to improve processes and will continue to work with Government and all interested parties as new research comes forward in the weeks and months ahead.