Bookmakers have been advised to try and educate MPs on the issue of gaming machines in order to make sure that the industry is not hamstrung by the bad press generated over the past few years.
Speaking to Betting Business interactive, Conservative MP for Shipley Philip Davies suggested the industry has been too sluggish in this regard and that his fellow MPs need educating about the facts behind FOBTs.
He commented: “There has been an awful lot of utterly misleading information put out by those with a vested interest in damaging betting shops, and I think the industry has been slow to counter that – particularly with regard to FOBTs.
“There is now some extremely robust information from the machines which show the average length of time people play on a machine and the amount lost per session broken down by constituency and I think the industry needs to spend time educating MPs on the figures for their area. They will be shocked when they learn the truth and not the nonsense peddled by the opponents of the betting industry and their friends in the press.”
Davies, himself a former bookmaker, suggested that even this might not be enough: “However, at the end of the day people believe what they want to believe – and that even includes MPs – and Ministers make decisions based on political calculation rather than evidence and so it will always be hard for the industry to get decision makers to make rational decisions.”
Davies is appearing at a Q&A session at next month’s Bookmakers’ Trade Fair at Wolverhampton Racecourse on 9 October.