Lords debate restrictions on B2 Gaming Machines

fobt-rouletteFixed odds betting terminals have been debated in the House of Lords, with the usual mix of hot air and in-depth analysis that has come to be frequently parodied of the UK’s second legislative house.

The whole discussion has been kicked off by Lib Dem Peer Lord Strasburger, despite the fact he doesn’t appear to know what the existing stake limits are on B2 Gaming Machines or what the government has been proposing. It ends with a Government whip essentially saying ‘they started it!’.

In the spirit of election year, despite the fact that the peers will remain in situ regardless of whoever wins, here is the Hansard transcript of the debate

Highlights of the debate:

Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con): My Lords, new regulations come into force on 6 April this year that will end unsupervised high-stake gambling on fixed-odds betting terminals. All players using FOBTs are now presented with a choice to set time and money upfront. We are keeping this issue under review and remain focused on identifying gambling-related harm, wherever it is found, and devising effective measures to bear down on it hard.

Lord Strasburger (LD): Can my noble friend the Minister explain why the Government’s rather feeble plan to set the maximum stake to £50 or £100 will make any difference at all to money laundering or to the extensive gambling addiction that these machines cause, given that four out of five of those staking just a quarter of the proposed new maximum limit show signs of problem gambling?

Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab): Does the Minister seriously believe that the assurances given by the bookmakers can be met as regards monitoring problem gambling?

Lord Dubs (Lab): My Lords, will the Minister confirm that, despite the new measures, it will still be possible for a gambler to spend £100 every 20 seconds? What further inducement could one give to people who have social difficulties and who are problem gamblers than to make it so easy to lose so much money?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, the new measures will require those accessing stakes of over £50 to use account-based play or to load cash. However, interestingly, the Gambling Commission reported on Friday on its wish to raise the bar on social responsibility and working with operators to ensure that there is much more adherence to assisting people who gamble.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, I am a fairly even-minded person, but we are dealing with a question where, in 2000, there were no FOBTs and, by 2010, there were 30,000 FOBTs. That is the situation that this Government now seek to address. The deputy leader of the noble Lord’s party has admitted that what happened was a mistake, and we are now dealing with that.

Contains Parliamentary information licensed under the Open Parliament Licence v3.0.

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