Chancellor Phillip Hammond is reported to have ruled out a move to tackle the impact of highly addictive Fixed Odd Betting Terminals (FOBTs), putting tax revenues and, presumably, market liberalism ahead of the families and communities torn apart by gambling addictions.
Hammond’s recent comment that the loss to the Treasury would be “financially crippling” only goes to illustrate the sheer amount of money being gambled away on these machines. As well as also raising concerns about where his priorities lie, it represents highly questionable economics given how research shows that the money lost comes disproportionately from poor areas and would have contributed more to society by being been spent elsewhere.
You can also read Matt Zarb Cousin’s personal account about how an FOBT addiction nearly caused him to end his life.
Update: The Guardian has run a series of further articles highlighting the way parts of the gambling industry fail, or even target, the vulnerable and people on lower incomes.
- Gambling firm 888 penalised record £7.8m for failing vulnerable customers
- Revealed: how gambling industry targets poor people and ex-gamblers
- Revealed: tipsters deliberately recommend losing bets to punters
It has also been revealed that there are more than 400,000 problem gamblers in the UK, with 2m at risk.