01 November 2016

Highly Addictive Fixed Odds Betting Terminals Under Review

A gambling addiction is one that can totally consume the affected individual. The most concerning part of it is that very often the person will not even realise that he or she is suffering from an addiction until it is too late. Gambling is highly addictive and can have devastating consequences for not only the individual but also their families as well.

One occasional harmless bet can soon turn into endless hours spent obsessing over a slot machine in the bookies or online. It is not uncommon for many people to take out loans and credit cards to fund their addiction, which then results in further debt. When it comes to fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs), the potential to lose thousands of pounds in a short space of time can lead many people to a devastating cycle of gambling and borrowing that they cannot get out of.

Investigations Underway

Recently, amid accusations that many FOBTs are extremely addictive, ministers have requested a review of the gambling industry, and investigations are underway. Sport minister Tracey Crouch announced the review and said that it would be taking into consideration the rewards and maximum stakes for these machines. The focus of the investigation is to examine FOBTs in relation to the growing concern that they can be highly addictive; it will also consider other regulations on gaming machines in the industry as a whole.

One of the aims of the review will be to investigate the overall safety that is in place to protect vulnerable adults and children. Crouch stated that it is important for gambling regulations to “strike the right balance between allowing the industry to contribute to the economy and enable people to bet responsibly while ensuring customers and communities are protected.”

Government ‘Finally Woken Up’

The shadow culture secretary and Labour deputy leader Tom Watson told of how he feels the review has been a long time coming. Commenting further on this, he said, “We have been calling on the government to take action on fixed odds betting terminals for many years. The government has finally woken up to the fact that it has not done enough to curtail the proliferation of FOBTs, which are now a blight on many of our high streets.”

A shocking figure has emerged highlighting the fact that a record-breaking £1.7 billion was gambled on FOBTs in 2015 alone. These FOBTs are enabling punters to stake up to £100 every 20 seconds on electronic casino games such as roulette.

Watson continued, “All the available evidence suggests these machines are highly addictive. That is why Labour wants to see the maximum stake reduced from £100 to £2. They can cause real and lasting damage to gamblers, and they have become a huge problem for communities that are often struggling to cope with underinvestment and high unemployment.”

Significant Step in the Right Direction

It seems that the Labour Party are not the only ones who have been requesting this review to be put in place. The chairperson of the Local Government Association’s Safer Communities Board, Simon Blackburn, said, “Councils have long called for a review into gaming machine stakes, so the announcement by the government today is a significant step in the right direction. Councils up and down the country are worried about the number of high-stakes FOBTs and betting shops on our high streets. Someone playing on a machine can lose £100 in a matter of seconds in a single play on an FOBT. This is money many people can’t afford to lose.”

Many people across the country are suffering from a gambling addiction, and a lot of it is down to these fixed odds betting terminals. Political parties such as Labour are proposing that the maximum stakes be drastically reduced from the current £100 to as little as £2 to minimise the lasting damage that can come with these high stakes.

Blackburn continued, “Bringing stakes in line with other gaming machines in betting shops and elsewhere on high streets and casinos would help to protect those at risk from problem gambling and would be an important step in the right direction.”

Easily Hidden

Gambling addictions are becoming more easily hidden, as anyone with access to the internet or even a smartphone can download an array of betting apps in which they can place bets from the comfort of their own home. This makes it problematic for loved ones to spot an addiction and it is often a key factor in the gambling addiction itself.

Many of these betting apps offer promotions and deals to lure punters in, and as there are so many different apps, anyone can have several them on their smartphone at any given time. As these apps can be accessed 24/7, this means that the addict can place bets whenever he/she pleases, which can have a detrimental impact on their life.

Overcoming Your Addiction

If you are an affected individual and have been trying to overcome an addiction, you may feel as though it’s ‘too difficult’. You could even feel a bit disheartened as you do not actually want to give up whatever it is you are addicted to, whether it be gambling, drugs or alcohol. Nevertheless, once you fully commit to kicking the addiction once and for all, many steps and treatments can be put in place to assist you on your journey to sobriety.

Here at UKAT, we will ensure that you are comfortable and satisfied with all treatment options we may suggest. Our helpful and welcoming professionals will educate you on the nature of your addiction and find the treatments that will be most beneficial for you. Contact us today for any further information.

Source: ‘Addictive’ high-stake betting machines under review by sport minister (The Guardian)

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