One of my pet hates are the F.O.B.T. (Fixed Odds Betting Terminals ) Machines, and their pernicious presence in betting shops up and down this once-pleasant land of ours. The Christian Institute echoes my concerns, and with the capability to allow a gambler with a credit card, together with an unshaken belief that the next spin will be ‘the one’ is always there, the addicts can, and do, lose eye-watering amounts of cash in a single session. The simple truth about gambling machines, mechanical (old school) or modern electronic types is that there is a bias, set into the very basic layout of the machinery’s innards, that the House always wins. A speedy review of the majors in gambling provide an interesting statistic, with the leader, William Hill, booking a massive $2.17 billions. Obviously the UK’s proportion of those earnings is smaller, but still substantial, and the tax take to HMRC is again, substantial.
I once worked in the commissioning phase of a Casino, and I can state, categorically, that the machines are as fixed as expected, the odds are set, and the House always wins. The manner in which this was shown was the view of three strong-armed casino staff members using flattened paddles, to wedge open an already crushed safe interior, stuffed with wads of cash so that ever more wedges of bundled notes could be shoved in, until the armoured bank truck appeared on the Monday morning, complete with armed escort, to transport the House winnings to the safety of a bank vault. But, as I was writing about a Government, our Government; I digress!
There has been, for years, ever since the lunacies of not only loosening the Gambling Law belt, we saw the surrender to the Gambling Companies, the vast expansion of casinos, and later the speedy avalanche both of online gambling; and the steady advance of these machines which hold a hook out, with a metaphorical carrot of winning based on the really silly idea of “It’ll be my turn on the very next spin”. My headline stated ‘How not to run a Government’ and I shall now demonstrate that very thesis.
With headlines such as “Gamblers in poorest constituencies are spending the most money” and “William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral and Paddy Power collectively making more than £1 billion a year from the machines.”, the Government was warned, years ago, that the scourge of the F.O.B.T.s was becoming ever larger, and that they should actively place exemplary measures in place to protect those who simply cannot protect themselves. So what did this truly caring Government do? They held a series of Committee meetings, with that same committee packed with MP’s who sat comfortably in the back pockets of the gambling companies, and decided to do: absolutely nothing! They then, stung by criticism from all quarters, decided to hold a Consultation; and asked, well, ‘What do you reckon? Should we drop the £100.00 top limit to £2.00; oh and what about Bingo prizes?’
They have the ability to Legislate, right now, and ban all those pernicious F.O.B.T. pieces of electronic excrescence from anywhere within the borders of the U.K.. But will they? Just think of all that lovely cash flowing towards the HMRC coffers which the Government must forgo if those machines are banned. And then you will see the redundancy notices handed out to the betting shop employees, who supervised, but never, ever warned a single punter that maybe he should quit, and cut his losses!
The Labour surrender was blessed by the Tories, and the tax take was too good to ignore!
Don’t get me wrong, I pay the ‘Stupid Tax’ alongside millions of others, but once a week, £2.50 is not exactly placing me on skid row, or anywhere near it.