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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

FULL marks to Newham council. They are appearing in court to defend their decision not to grant another gambling premises licence: on the grounds that Fixed Odds Betting Terminals are more about casino-type gaming and less about traditional betting.

It’s good to see at least one council prepared to take on the mighty gambling industry in an important test case. I wish Newham the best of luck. I'm sure other councils, less brave, will watch with interest.

Guardian story here.

Tags for Forum Posts: betting shops, fobts, gambling

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They are worse actually, you can bet faster on those machines than on the same games in a casino. However the biggest crime is that you can't really ban yourself from ladbrokes or William hill shops. They have the technology to ensure a problem gambler can call quits and ban themselves so their loyalty card doesn't work on all the machines in the land but the government has conspired to help the bookies.

It is an incredible tax, without gambling revenues income tax would have to be 50 % in the UK so I'm told. What people don't know is that all the male beggars in wood green are gambling to feed those machines and I bet my bottom dollar that the females beggars give their cash to their men that spend it on the machines.

Also I would bet that now most of the robberies in the area are not funding heroin but rather ladbrokes and William hill.

Regrettably, [here] PP won their Appeal. Paddy Power was pleased:

"Paddy Power makes a positive contribution to local communities in which it operates."

I'd like to know how, exactly.

In case you haven't yet spotted it, Clive, there was an interesting article on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals in the Guardian on 27 May 2013 by Amelia Gentleman. Called Wheel of Misfortune in the paper version, it was renamed: Roulette Machines the crack cocaine of gambling  in the online version.

Searching the Guardian for the first title also turned up a 2004 article by Victor Keegan called: Labour's Wheel of Misfortune.

Keegan described the gambling bill - then just published - as "one of the most bizarre creations this government - a Labour government, remember - has come up with".

In my view, one thing where the Labour Party deserves some credit is in realising and owning-up to the serious error it then made.

(Tottenham Hale ward councillor. Labour Party member.)

Alan not only did I spot the article, I posted it here on HoL on the day of publication. As you say, it is an interesting article.

Unfortunately your link Labour's Wheel of Misfortune, though underlined, is not working (was it meant to link?). Could you check this please?

Many warned against the legislation at the time. I beleve the only concession made, was that the intended permission for an unlimited number of FoBTs was reigned in to be a maximum of four. I would wager that there there is not a betting shop in the country that does not have four FoBT machines – and if permitted, would have as many as "market demand" would allow.

These machines are obscenely profitable and represent a leech on poor communities. I was flabbergasted that a Labour Government would allow such a thing.

It is widely recognised that the last government's Gambling Act was a flawed piece of legislation. I would rate it as one of New Labour's greatest mistakes. Realising and owning-up is easy compared with the years of time and effort that it will take to reverse the serious error.

Apologies, for missing your original post, Clive. Here's the missing link to Victor Kegan's article.

You say that owning-up is easier than reversing a mistake. In a peculiar way, it often seems to me that for many politicians the opposite is true. The very last thing they're willing to do is publicly  admit they were wrong. Or even partly wrong.

Can you imagine, for example, Michael Gove announcing that he'd reviewed the facts on academies and that, in the face of clear and persuasive argument and evidence, was drastically amending his Department's policies to give as much support, attention and resource to successful or improving local authority community schools?

Will Cllr Claire Kober bravely stand-up to admit that her various personally appointed panels and commissions were misguided and foolish - as well as undermining local democracy?

For Haringey, a key text remains Neil Garnham QC in the Victoria Climbié Inquiry.

"One possibility is that it might be thought that there is a lack of willingness to take responsibility... Willingness to acknowledge error is at least at the root, is it not, of progress?"

So please let's welcome Labour sinners who repent about the gambling legislation.

(Tottenham Hale ward councillor)

Alan I think you may underestimate the difficulty of "reversing a mistake" when that mistake is the Gambling Act, much of which is based on the premise that the number of gambling premises should be subject mainly or wholly to market forces (rather than to controls by councils).

Reform will require a concerted effort, probably of a future government, rather than just a few parliamentarians.

Reform of the Gambling Act would of course be opposed by the wealthy gambling industry, the same gentlemen who successfully lobbied for their Act in the first place. Reform won't be easy. Last year, a craven committee of MPs even suggested a further slackening of the law.

I believe that two or three members of the shadow cabinet have spoken out against the mistaken legislation. I'm only to happy to welcome repenting Labour sinners. I would honestly be impressed if I saw the shadow cabinet adopt as policy, the repeal of this pernicious Act, or its deep reform.

There is one thing that could possibly be done -  the betting shops could be forced to ensure that people can simply self exclude themselves for say a five year period to all betting shops in the country  using the machines own technology requiring new users to obtain and play with a unique card obtained by providing the right ID.  That could possibly side step the gambling act and would empower problem gamblers accross Britian.

Believe me that simple law would apsolutly devastate the bookies business in one foul swoop and result in lots of shops closing becuase almost everyone that uses those machines hates them and at some point they would request to be self excluded (people try to do it all the time but currently the bookies have no legal obligation to enforce it properly)

'The right to be self exluded' law - you heard it here first.

An interesting suggestion FPR.

I see parallels between the addiction to FOBTs and the addiction to nicotine. The NHS offer help to those many nicotine users who simultaneously crave the drug and detest their addiction to it, hoping and wishing they could give it up. Likewise, those addicted to FOBT's need help.

So, Clive, how about asking  what help exists for problem gamblers?

I am already aware of the efforts of the gambling industry to help problem gamblers. The point is that these are token efforts.

Some years ago, at a Licensing Committee Hearing that Hugh may remember, the betting firm was asked how much they contributed to GamCare. I think the answer was £2,000.

Per Annum.

Gam care themselves are quite flawed. Compulsive gamblers can't temper their gambling, that's why they are compulsive gamblers, the only sustainable solution for them is to stop.

Helping gamblers deny themselves access to temptation and ensuring that self help groups to stop, full stop - are the only real solutions if you ask me.
Clive - gambling is like nicotine addiction but at the same time it's different. I've overcome them both but problem gambling has a terrible stigma attached to it and very little support out there nor are there any patches available. The self help groups are run by hugely courageous individuals who are working in the dark ages when it comes to normal social work practices involving risk. They are entirely funded by themselves ( tea and biscuits and room hire paid for by the broke gamblers with everyone contributing to a kitty every week ) where people often sit in stinky rooms often in the company of a few seriously dangerous criminals, who openly share their extreme criminally with the group putting off many new comers.

It's a terrible example of redistributing the wealth from the poor and often vulnerable to the manipulative rich with no care to the victims at all.

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