What’s a FOBT?

A Fixed Odds Betting Terminal, the sort of casino-style games you find in betting shops.

What’s the story?

FOBTs are “the crack cocaine” of gambling, allowing punters to stake £100 every 20 seconds and they are taking over the High Street, according to MPs in a recent debate.

What’s the nature of the concern?

Apart from the obvious temptation to gamble beyond a punter’s means, betting shops are restricted to four machines in a shop so operators are getting round the law by buying up more shops. Betting shops appear in clusters and are most frequently found in poorer boroughs like Newham.

How has Newham responded?

The council has won support from 92 local authorities for its Sustainable Communities Act proposal to reduce the maximum stakes from £100 to £2. It is expected that the Government will provide a final response in the summer.

What does Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales say?

“It is clear that politicians from across the country are incensed by the Government’s refusal to take any real action on these machines and the delay over the triennial review.

“Government minister David Evennett acknowledged [in the debate] that he shared the concerns highlighted. But he and the Government have failed to do anything about it. They must do the right thing by standing up to the betting industry and toughening up regulation.”

How have the betting shops responded?

The Gambling Commission introduced new regulations in April that required operators to set how how they will reduce risk. The Commission’s Rob Burkitt said: “Local risk assessments give gambling operators a means to demonstrate how they are conducting or intend to conduct their business in a socially responsible manner.”