The Bishop of St Albans Dr Alan Smith challenged the competent authorities to consider imposing stricter restrictions on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) across the country. Revd Dr Smith claims that the existing restrictions placed on betting machines in the UK are not enough to prevent gambling-related harm from affecting customers.
Local bookmakers that operate high-street betting shops in the country have revealed plans to upgrade the fixed-odds betting machines so that the software used in the terminals detects if a player is betting without a clear pattern or has been playing continuously for 20 minutes. Under the changes that are to be brought to the FOBTs’ mechanism, the machines would forcibly impose a 20- to 30-second breaks to make sure players would be given enough time to reconsider their continuous gambling.
The new technology that is to be used is set to track the time spent by the player on a machine, speed of play, as well as erratic play and any behaviour that may hint about chasing losses. Betting shops’ staff would also be notified whenever the cooling-off period is triggered. Players will also be displayed warnings about safe and responsible gambling while cooling-off periods are on.
However, according to the Bishop of St Albans, the move was only the first step in what should be stricter regulation of the services. Furthermore, he explained that 20 seconds was just too short of a period to be actually effective.
UK Gambling Companies Do Not Seem Willing to Impose Stricter Measures on Their Remote Operations
The new restrictions for fixed-odds betting machines have been proposed by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) as part of the organisation’s effort to tackle the rising problem gambling rates in the UK. The Anonymous Player Awareness System is being rolled out on electronic gambling terminals across the high-street betting outlets in the UK.
Earlier in 2019, a study revealed that people who are classified as gambling addicts are 15 times more likely to try to take their own lives than others. Over the last few years, both gambling charity organisations and the UK Government have shared their concerns with the rising gambling participation and problem gambling rates in the country, especially when it comes to underage and vulnerable individuals.
Now, Bishop Alan Smith called for an independent review to check on the effectiveness of the implementation of so-called cooling-off periods. He also noted that the change is currently happening only in the retail sector and called for similar measures to be introduced online, too.
He also doubted the good intentions of gambling industry executives, who promote their companies’ efforts in the retail sector while at the same time fighting stricter regulatory measures for their online operations. The last few months have also seen other gambling charities that also criticised local gambling operators, accusing them of hypocrisy.