The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith, has responded to Panorama’s programme: “Why are Gambling Machines Addictive?” He said:
“Wendy Bendel and the Panorama team have done an exceptional job in highlighting the very real dangers that gambling machines pose to those at risk of gambling related harm. While the betting industry continues to claim that so-called Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) are no different to other forms of gambling, the studies conducted for Panorama show that the combination of high-stake and high-speed play associated with FOBTs leave players at particular risk of developing addictive behaviours. In those economically deprived areas where betting shops have a habit of clustering, the effects can be devastating.
“While Government needs to review FOBT stakes as a matter of priority, it is also important that Local Licensing Authorities are given the power to restrict the use of FOBTs in areas which are vulnerable to the crime and social harm with which they are increasingly associated. That is why I have tabled an amendment to the Government’s Policing and Crime Bill which would hand licensing authorities the power to impose new conditions on the use of gaming machines on gambling premises. This amendment has been tabled with the support of Westminster Council and the Local Government Association and I believe that many local authorities would welcome the proposed powers .”