Dr. Alan Smith, the Bishop of St Albans, started a fierce attack on the Government’s decision to put back the introduction of the new maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
He commented on the delay in an online article for the Observer, saying that the new betting limit on the machine should be rolled out as soon as possible in order for the Government to make sure that people, who were potentially in danger of becoming problem gamblers or were already suffering from gambling addiction, were protected.
The Bishop of St Albans decided to urge the Government to reconsider its decision after the shocking resignation of the Sports and Civil Society Minister Tracey Crouch who last week decided to quit her ministerial role in protest at the decision for the delay. He accused both local bookmakers and football clubs that were in sponsorship with gambling operators of popularising gambling among local citizens in an attempt to boost their profits. Dr. Smith expressed his disapproval of the Government’s decision to delay the introduction of the reduced maximum bet of controversial gaming machines.
Today I was able to voice my real concern about the delay in the FOBT stake reduction announced in yesterday's #Budget2018 especially as these machines are often found in the poorest sections of our society pic.twitter.com/CC7Q9KY7dC
— Alan Smith (@BishopStAlbans) October 30, 2018
He further noted that jobs which would or could be lost in the industry can be replaced but lives of people who lose control over their gambling and committed suicide cannot be brought back.
This is not the first time when the Bishop of St Albans urged the UK Government to roll out the new rules about the FOBT maximum bet. Back in July, the Anglican bishop called the authorities to prioritise the issue and do whatever it takes to bring the changes to action as soon as they can.
Sky to Limit Gambling Ads in Commercial Breaks
At the time when the UK Government announced its intention to cut the existing maximum stake of fixed-odds betting terminals from £100 to £2, gambling companies across the country warned that the reduction would be a hard blow for them, which would make them close some of their high-street betting outlets and fire some of their employees. The Bishop of St Albans, however, said that jobs can be replaced, unlike lives.
He blamed local bookmakers for the fact that they generated massive profits, and scolded local football clubs that agreed to sponsorship deals with gambling operators.
The comments of Dr. Smith also came after one of the largest commercial broadcasters in the UK – Sky – revealed a decision to limit the number of gambling adverts aired on its channels. The broadcaster revealed that it would only permit one gambling advert per commercial break since the start of the 2019/2020 Premier League season. Furthermore, Sky also intends to update its existing technology, AdSmart, in order to provide viewers with the opportunity to suspend gambling advertising from June 2020 on platforms where the ads are being controlled by the company.
For some time, local broadcasters have also been blamed for being paying much attention to gambling advertising. Despite the fact that earlier this year Sky told the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport that rules imposed on advertising were enough, now it has finally responded to public concern about the constantly increasing number of gambling ads aired over the last few years.