Encouraging Victory Against Anti-Gaming Bias in the UK Media

Encouraging Victory Against Anti-Gaming Bias in the UK Media

The anti-gaming lobby are a seemingly ever-present blight on the landscape in this industry. 

They don’t seem to grasp the fact that, as history has shown, prohibition never works, and that the vast majority of players are not problem gamers.*

Those who would oppose your right to game of course had a victory in the US with the ‘Black Thursday’ prohibition on online poker playing, although this travesty seems to be gradually getting rolled back, we’re happy to say.

In Australia as well, the legal status of gaming is very much a live issue and is a political platform for some ‘anti-pokie’ politicians.

Let’s take a look at another country which has not only a thriving gaming sector but, as with seagulls scavenging behind a trawler, vocal anti-gambling lobby too — namely the UK.

A recent incident sheds some light on how confused the anti-gaming lobby can often be…

FOBT ads found to be ‘misleading’

UK do-gooders the Campaign for Fairer Gambling brought out a series of ads condemning Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) recently which ended up falling foul of Advertising watchdog the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), who found the ads to be misleading.

FOBTs are, put simply, slots which make use of fixed odds and which can be found in betting shops, or bookmakers, in the UK. The games can include variations on Roulette and other table games.

Thus FOBTs differ from betting shops’ bread and butter business of variable odds betting on sports events.

FOBTs have max and min bets as you might expect; the latter can be as low as a few pence in the case of FOBTs which use tokens rather than coins.

Since the Campaign for Fairer Gambling had personally addressed their hysterical ads to David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, UK Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition respectively, there was a certain sense of irony to the fact that it was a Member of the UK Parliament, Philip Davies (Conservative, Shipley) who brought the complaint.

Ludicrous claims

Mr. Davies raised five points in his complaint, all of which the ASA upheld, perhaps unsurprisingly given the highly-charged and subjective language of the offending items.

These included claims that FOBTs were the ‘..scourge of the high street’ (and you thought it was traffic wardens or litter!), that it was possible to bet up to £100 every 10 seconds, and most notoriously of all, the ludicrous statement that FOBTs were ‘the crack cocaine of gambling’…

This was not in fact the first time Mr. Davies had brought a complaint to ASA regarding the Campaign’s anti-FOBT ads, though it was his most successful to date, with all points being conceded by the regulatory body.

Noone’s saying you don’t need to be careful when gaming

Now, we’d like to point out that we don’t suggest that the profusion of FOBTs has been without any attendant issues whatsoever.

One major concern is their use in money laundering, although the Gambling Commission in the UK has already brought prosecutions in some cases.

However it’s worth noting that, whilst the betting sector has always been pretty thriving in the UK, it is still subject to regulation and its presence is arguably not as obtrusive (at least for those with an anti-gaming bias) as can be the case in other countries.

For instance even in Finland, a nation with quite strict gaming controls (though less so than in neighboring Norway) slot machines are permitted in newsstand kiosks and small arcades in public places such as train stations.

It will be interesting to see if there are any further developments surrounding FOBTs both in the UK and elsewhere in the world, or indeed if Mr. Davis continues to champion the industry’s right to be treated fairly in the marketplace as he has here.

*We take very seriously the fact that, for a small number of players, gaming can sadly become an addiction. Most online casinos provide information on what to do if you do find yourself in trouble - always take advantage of these sooner rather than later.