Tory minister whom backed FOBTs takes over review of gambling rules

A Conservative minister who had been in preference of enabling fixed-odds gambling terminals (FOBTs) at motorway solution channels and entertainment arcades was place in cost of a landmark overview of gambling laws and regulations, the Guardian has learned.

Campaigners for gambling reform voiced concern after it was launched.

They after it emerged that John Whittingdale, the minister for media and data, is taking over responsibility for the review from the sports minister, Nigel Huddleston, nearly three months pointed to Whittingdale’s record of voting against stronger regulation of the industry and comments playing down the dangers of FOBTs.

Whittingdale was chair of the culture committee that is select it produced a written report suggesting that FOBTs is allowed at venues such as for instance bingo halls and entertainment arcades. The 2012 report may also have resulted in the very addicting machines that are £100-per-spin installed at motorway service stations across the country. The proposals were not adopted by David Cameron’s government.

Whittingdale later took aim at the description that is common of because the “crack cocaine” of gambling, telling a market seminar: “I’m not yes they’ve perhaps the cannabis of gambling.” NHS studies have actually regularly shown that FOBTs are associated with greater prices of addiction than many other gambling services and products.

In 2014, during a debate within the House of Commons, Whittingdale stated it had been that is“virtually impossible lose large sums on the machines. However, a later study by the Gambling Commission found that FOBT players lost more than £1,000 on more than 233,000 occasions over a period that is 10-month

The Conservative federal government eventually cut the maximum stake from £100 to £2, branding the devices a blight” that is“social

Labour’s Carolyn Harris, who chairs a cross-party group of MPs investigating harm that is gambling-related stated she ended up being worried during the improvement in ministerial oversight for the review.

“Given The appointee that is new a history of being strongly supportive of the industry, I very much hope he will be focused on the evidence and not influenced by aggressive industry lobbying,” she said.

The change is thought to be due to the intensity of Huddleston’s workload efforts that are overseeing relieve the effect of Covid-19 on sport, tourism and heritage.[Whittingdale]A representative for the Department for Digital, society, Media and Sport stated: “The minister

completely supports the comprehensive, evidence-led overview of the gambling work to ensure legislation is fit for the age.”

Liz that is digital Ritchie, of the charity Gambling with Lives, which was set up by families bereaved by gambling-related suicide, said: “The failures of successive ministers to right the wrongs of the 2005 Gambling Act and rein in the greed of the gambling industry has led to thousands of people dying through gambling related suicide and millions of lives torn apart. The minister that is new a chance to place this right. Bereaved families will hold him to your task of preserving the life for the generation that is next”

Voting records show Whittingdale has consistently opposed measures to impose tighter controls on the sector. In 2013 he voted not to require gambling companies to ban people who have registered for self-exclusion. In 2011 he voted against measures that would have prevented gambling companies from getting planning that is automatic to available shops in plots vacated by banking institutions.(*)Matt Zarb-Cousin, for the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, stated: “Public help for gambling reform is overwhelming. Therefore if the government’s planning to get its gambling review appropriate, hopefully John’s views have actually changed since 2012.”(*)

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