UK Government to Review ‘Crack Cocaine’ of Gambling, Fixed Odds Machines

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The UK government is set to review fixed odds gambling machines amid concerns they are harming some 600,000 vulnerable people, the BBC is reporting this week.

For the past few years these machines have been routinely referred to as “the crack cocaine” of online gambling due to their addictive qualities.

From the BBC:

The Association of British Bookmakers has previously stated that any review should be "evidence-based and not unfairly penalise the majority who gamble responsibly and enjoy their leisure pursuit". It has said that FOBTs have been in use for around 15 years "and yet problem gambling levels have remained stable".

Government figures suggest the gambling industry employs around 100,000 people in the UK and contributed more than £10bn to the economy last year.

But, amid concern over associated social problems, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport-led review will assess its impact on individuals and communities.

Culture, media and sport minister Tracey Crouch said: "It is important that gambling regulations strike the right balance between allowing the industry to contribute to the economy and enable people to bet responsibly whilst ensuring consumers and communities are protected.”

Labour's culture spokesman Tom Watson said: "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.

"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 under-investment and high unemployment."

- Aaron Goldstein, Gambling911.com

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