Mike welcomes the support of Rehman Chishti MP in Medway’s stand against Fixed Odds Betting Machines


I welcome the letter recently sent to the Opposition Labour Group on Medway Council by Rehman Chishti MP supporting the action taken by Medway Council which I reprint here :

Cllr Vince Maple
Leader of the Labour Group
Medway Council
Gun Wharf
Dock Road

27 February 2013

Dear Cllr Maple

Thank you for contacting me about problem gambling and Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTS).

Given the local concerns that have been expressed on this issue, I welcome the recent action that has been taken by Medway Council, led by the Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Customer Contact Cllr Mike O’Brien, in meeting with the Gambling Commission and drawing up proposals for a voluntary code on gambling.

I have previously raised this matter in Parliament. On 24 January 2013 I asked for a debate on the impact this is having on local communities given the concerns raised in Gillingham and Rainham about problem gambling and the operation of FOBTS.

In his reply, the Leader of the House said that he shares peoples’ concerns on this issue, and that there are limits to gambling that must be understood and policed. He also said that some useful analytical research is being undertaken to help to understand what impact changes in the legal framework for gambling might have had on problem gambling.

In December I also wrote to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport asking what considerations have been given as to whether the current levels of stakes and prizes offered through FOBTs are appropriate and what evaluation has been made of the impact such machines have had on local communities.

In the reply the Minister for Sports and Tourism states that the Government is looking at this issue in more detail. Many people have expressed similar concerns but currently there is no clear evidence to indicate whether the regulation of the gambling sector in place since 2007 has had a significant effect on the level of problem gambling. The Minister says that it is important that any policy or regulatory changes are based on firm evidence and factual foundation.

Furthermore, the Minister acknowledges that the link between FOBTS and problem gambling is poorly understood. This is why there is a research programme underway to develop evidence for better regulation and education and treatment for problem gambling.

In addition, he says that if there is clear evidence to prove that FOBTs are causing harm that he will take appropriate action to address this.

This demonstrates that the Government is giving this issue the serious consideration it requires.
Yours sincerely
Rehman Chishti MP

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