Minister Hits Out at Bookmakers Association After FOBT Snub

Tracey Crouch disappointed with ABB.

Culture Minister Tracey Crouch disappointed with the ABB’s FOBT meeting boycott. (BBC.com)

Fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) continue to cause a rift among the UK gambling community, this time it’s thanks to the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB).

Back in September, the government announced that it would be reviewing the status of FOBTs amid concerns that they could be increasing instances of problem gambling.

As part of the review, a Commons meeting was scheduled to take place in mid-November to discuss the matter.

However, believing that the deck had already been stacked against them, the ABB decided not to attend.

Following the missed session, Culture Minister Tracey Crouch said she was surprised the ABB didn’t attended and suggested that “missed an opportunity” to have their say on the matter.

ABB Not Confident of a Fair Hearing

The ABB has been sceptical of the government’s plans ever since they came to light back in September. In October a spokesperson for the representative body said that it hoped the review would be “evidenced-based” and not a process that seeks to “unfairly penalise” British gamblers.

Following on from this initial statement, the ABB responded to Ms Crouch by suggesting that its presence at the meeting would have made little difference to those already in favour of banning FOBTs.

“We see no value in providing evidence to a group when the outcome of its inquiry has been pre-determined and it operates as little more than a kangaroo court. The All Party Group is a club of anti-betting shop MPs, funded by amusement arcades and casinos with commercial interest in attacking betting shops,” read a statement from the ABB.

Although the ABB has made it clear the review is biased against its members, the discussions will continue regardless. British gamblers are currently spending more than £1.7 billion each year on FOBTs, but if certain members of the government get their way that figure could decrease dramatically.

As well as placing restrictions on the promotion of FOBTs, the government is considering limiting stakes to £2-a-round, which is a far cry from the £100 max wager currently in place.

Barton’s Bets Land Him in Hot Water

In other UK gambling news this week, footballer Joey Barton has found himself in hot water after he admitted to 44 charges related to illegal sports betting.

The English midfielder is certainly no stranger to controversy on the pitch, but following a hearing at Hampden Park he’s now been suspended for one match.

Barton joined Scottish club Rangers in the summer, but a bust-up with manager Mark Warburton led to his contract being terminated in November.

However, even if he was still under contract, he would be forced to miss his next match because he admitted to gambling on 44 matches between July1 and September 15.

As is the case in the English league system, players in Scotland aren’t to bet on sports. Barton clearly chose to ignore this rule while sitting on the sidelines for Rangers and that means he’ll now see himself out of action for even longer thanks to the Scottish FA.

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