This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.

Local authority licensing powers over betting shops

Derek Webb, of the Fairer Gambling Campaign, discusses why local authorities should take a stronger stance against roulette machines in betting shops.


ecently the Department for Culture, Media and Sport issued a report on the

hearing into the 2005 Gambling Act. A major recommendation was a shift towards more local authority (LA) licensing responsibility. The chairman of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has acknowledged that, based on a 2009 concordat, LAs have a regulatory role over day-to-day compliance and enforcement.

Machines in betting shops, originally called FOBTs (Fixed Odds Betting Terminals), but now classed as B2 machines, win nearly £1.4bn per year from gamblers, which is around £0.5bn more than the total UK casino table and machine win, according to the UKGC. Based on bookmakers’ annual reports, the turnover in betting shops is now split around 80% on machines and around 20% on over-the-counter betting.

Because FOBTs (B2s) are gaming machines, rather than betting machines, betting shops are in breach of licence, as a betting licence is granted for the primary activity of betting. Therefore LAs have the power to deny new or renewal betting shop license on those grounds alone.

Additionally there are the three licensing objectives that LAs can use to assess if there has been a breach of licence. The ‘fair and open’ and ‘no association of crime with gambling’ objectives are hard for LAs to enforce without UKGC or police support. The prevention of harm and exploitation of the young and vulnerable ‘problem gambling’ licensing objective is an easier tool for the LA to use.

The 2010 British Gambling Prevalence Study (BGPS) showed that there had been an increase of 50% in problem gambling since the 2007

22 | public sector executive Jul/Aug 12

survey. It defi ned 18 gambling activities and indicated that fi ve activities (including FOBTs) had higher problem gambling prevalence.

Of those fi ve activities, it showed that FOBT gamblers were less likely to gamble at other activities.

Further the BGPS showed that the young, unemployed, low-income demographic is

gamblers and the amounts they lose.

The bookmakers and the FOBT suppliers know how addictive FOBTs are. They know the answers to the following questions: What percentage of individual funds deposited into FOBTs are totally lost by gamblers? What percentage of all funds deposited into FOBTS are lost by gamblers?

Simply if the answer is ‘100%’ then this would show FOBTs to be totally addictive to everybody. We estimate that both answers are 50% or more, indicators of real problem gambling.

FOBTS are winning around £1,000 per machine per year per gambler. But with many infrequent gamblers losing far less, there is a hard-core of problem gamblers losing far more. These hard- core problem gamblers will sadly cause wider social and economic cost to their families and communities to maintain their addictions.

disproportionately participating in FOBT gambling. This also applied to the vulnerable at-risk gamblers who are ‘high-time and high- spend’ gamblers, who are losing £7 per hour or more. However FOBT gamblers lose £30 per hour!

There has been some criticism of the BGPS, claiming that it is too easy to assess someone as a problem gambler. But the reality is that the reverse is true. Many gamblers do not become problem gamblers until later in life. Also, many gamblers hide their problem gambling from others and themselves. But the main weakness in any problem gambling survey is that gamblers losing money they should not have are unlikely to want to explain that. Therefore if the BGPS is fl awed in any way, it will be in under-indicating the numbers of problem

LAs should enact their gambling licensing responsibilities by ensuring that taking action against betting shops with these destructive FOBTs becomes a priority.

* All assertions contained within this article are the opinion of the Fairer Gambling Campaign (, a not-for-profi t entity funded by Prime Table Games – experts in understanding game content and player behaviour.


T: 01332 638025 E: W:

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80