Significant rise for Scottish FOBTs
Scottish gamblers staked £4.4bn ($6.65bn/€5.09bn) on fixed-odds betting terminals between October of 2011 and September of 2012, a year-on-year increase of, according to new figures from the Campaign For Fairer Gambling.
The Daily Record newspaper said that £149m of the total amount staked was lost on the casino-style terminals, which allow gamers to bet up to £100 every 20 seconds on roulette, poker and blackjack.
Critics have branded FOBTs part of a ‘toxic economy’ and have called for legislation to mirror that of Ireland where politicians recently outlawed the machines. However, UK ministers have postponed a decision until further research into the addictiveness of the terminals is completed.
Adrian Parkinson, spokesman and former manager for UK bookmaker Tote, said: “These betting shop roulette machines were initially slow to take off in Scotland but they are now showing exceptional levels of growth.
“This explains why the big operators are now opening multiple shops on high streets. FOBTs are the most addictive gambling product in the country and are driving the proliferation of betting shops. The social and economic consequences of this continued rise are causing concern among politicians but governments are failing to act.”
The Association of British Bookmakers, the UK’s gambling industry body, has criticised the figures, describing them as flawed. A spokesman added: “However you present the figures, they don’t provide evidence for a link between problem gambling and electronic gaming machines in betting shops. The number of machines in these shops has remained stable over the last three years.
“If the Government follow the advice of a very small number of anti-betting shop campaigners – ban or restrict gaming machines – then 5,500 jobs in 950 betting shops in Scotland would be put at risk in the future.”