Parliamentary FOBT group relaunches with wider remit

14 January 2019

The UK Parliament's Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBT) All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) is to expand its reach and focus to tackle a wider range of issues linked to gambling.

The group, which successfully campaigned for the maximum stake on FOBTs to be lowered from £100 to £2, has rebranded as the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Gambling-Related Harm to reflect this new approach.

The initial focus for the renamed group will be a new inquiry into assessing the impact of online gambling on vulnerable people, including children.

Labour Member of Parliament (MP) Carolyn Harris will continue to serve as group chair. She will be assisted by vice-chairs Iain Duncan Smith MP of the Conservatives, the Scottish National Party's Ronnie Cowan MP, Conservative peer Lord Chadlington and Democratic Unionist Party MP Jim Shannon.

Cowan will also hold an informal policy fair in the House of Commons tomorrow (January 15), in partnership with the GambleAware charity, to discuss opportunities to reduce gambling-related harms with charities, church groups, treatment providers and other interested stakeholders.

“Many of us are deeply concerned about the harms caused by online gambling and particularly the impact and harm of online gambling on children,” Harris said. “We are therefore beginning our new work programme but undertaking an inquiry looking at the harm caused specifically by online gambling.

“Urgent action is needed and as a group in parliament we are determined to see that action happen.”

Confirmation of the move comes at a time when the UK Gambling Commission is also seeking to enhance its own approach to responsible gambling, with the roll-out of a new strategy.

The National Responsible Gambling Strategy will launch when the regulator’s current three-year strategy concludes in March. The strategy includes 12 priority actions for the Commission, ranging from consulting a culture of evaluation to piloting intervention.

GamStop, the industry-managed national online self-exclusion database, is also facing pressure to improve its service following a BBC investigation, which accused the platform of failing to adequately protect problem gamblers.

A report by BBC Radio 5 Live Investigates found flaws in the solution, namely the fact a gambler that had self-excluded could bypass the system by changing their user details.

Image: Jamie Adams