On 16th June 2018 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, was a signatory to a letter to The Times newspaper registering concern about reports of a delay to the implementation of a reduction in stakes to £2 for fixed-odds betting terminals:
BETTING STAKE DELAY
Sir, Your report (June 15) that bookmakers have struck a backroom deal with the Treasury to delay for two years the implementation of the stake reduction on highly addictive fixed-odds betting terminals from £100 a spin to £2 is deeply disturbing. Continue reading “Times: Bishop of St Albans voices concern about delay in reduction of betting machine stakes”
On 17th May 2018 Lord Ashton of Hyde repeated a statement made in the House of Commons by the Culture Secretary, about the Government’s new policy on gaming machines and social responsibility. The Bishop warmly welcomed the news that maximum stakes on fixed-odds betting machines would be reduced from £100 to £2:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I too welcome this Statement, which represents a significant progress in our efforts to bring about a sensible and ordered scheme of gambling regulation in this country. I also pay tribute to the Minister in this House, to the Minister in the other place, to the Secretary of State and to the Prime Minister for their moral courage in the face of a lot of opposition in making this excellent decision, not least to reduce the stakes for FOBTs down to £2. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans welcomes Government announcement on fixed-odds betting terminals”
On 6th April 2018 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer to three questions about the Consultation on proposals for changes to Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans:
(i) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what meetings civil servants and ministers have had with stakeholders about the Consultation on proposals for changes to Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures; and what were the (1) dates, (2) locations, and (3) attendees, of each of those meetings.
(ii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether all submissions to the Consultation on proposals for changes to Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures will be published alongside the review.
(iii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have commissioned small-scale qualitative research to assess the appropriate stakes for category B2 gaming machines. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about the Consultation on proposals for changes to Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures”
On 22nd March 2018 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a qurstion he had tabled about the social costs of fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs). A transcript of his question and those of other members in response, is below:
Gambling: Fixed-odds Betting Terminals
The Lord Bishop of St Albans, To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the social costs of fixed-odds betting terminals.
Baroness Chisholm of Owlpen (Con): My Lords, the consultation on gaming machines and social responsibility measures closed on 23 January, and all responses are currently being considered. An impact assessment was published alongside the consultation in October and any additional evidence submitted, including on social costs related to FOBTs, will be taken into consideration. It was made clear at consultation that the stakes on FOBTs would be reduced, and the final position will be published in due course.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, these particular machines are a modern-day scourge which create misery and deepen poverty. Unemployed people are more likely to play these games than any other group. Citizens Advice has shown that, for every addict, six to 10 other adults are directly and adversely affected. The children and families of addicts are simply bewildered at the Gambling Commission’s suggestion that a stake of up to £30 might be acceptable. Will the noble Baroness assure the House that the needs of the vulnerable will be placed above concerns about either tax revenue or the gambling lobby, and that a £2 stake is the only answer? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans calls on Government to reduce stakes on ‘modern scourge’ of fixed-odds betting machines”
On 31st October 2017 a Government statement on its new consultation on fixed-odds betting terminals was repeated in the House of Lords. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, responded to the statement :
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, last year, there were more than 200,000 occasions when gamblers on FOBTs lost more than £1,000 at a single sitting. All other forms of gambling with stakes of more than £2 are restricted to premises such as casinos, which do not have open access and are not on the high street. Does the Minister agree that the only way to rectify the mistake of the 2005 Act and restore logic and order to the gambling regime is to support a £2 stake?
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans urges Government to support a £2 stake for betting machines”
Press release, from the Church of England website:
The Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, has responded to the Government’s announcement today of The Triennial Review of Stakes and Prizes.
He said: “The Triennial Review of Stakes and Prizes has proposed a range of possible stakes for fixed-odds betting terminals. While a reduction in stakes is welcome, any stake higher than £2 does not go far enough to address the harm these machines cause to families and communities around the UK. Continue reading “Cut stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals to £2, Bishop of St Albans urges Government”
On 14th September 2017 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Chadlington, ‘That this House takes note of the effect of gambling advertisements on children.’ The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I too add my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Chadlington, for introducing this important debate, which has such implications for young people in our country.
Gambling-related advertising poses a substantial risk of harm to children.
Continue reading “Betting firms should be forced to take drastic action to protect children from ads says Bishop of St Albans”
On 14th September 2017 The Times newspaper published a letter from the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, about the forthcoming Government gambling review and the need to address the issue of fixed odds betting terminals:
Sir, It is encouraging to read that the prime minister is putting her weight behind the reduction in stakes for fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) (“Treasury backs down on fixed-odds betting curbs”, Sep 12). The present maximum stake of £100 for an FOBT looks like an anomaly compared with the stakes permitted in other licensed gaming machine categories, which range from £1 to £5. The £100 stakes allow FOBTs to wreak disproportionate harm. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans letter to The Times on Government review of fixed odds betting terminals”
On 7th December 2016, the House of Lords considered the Government’s Policing and Crime Bill in Committee. The Bishop of Bristol co-sponsored an amendment on fixed-odds betting terminals. The amendment was withdrawn after the debate, following assurances from the Minister that the issue would be looked at in the forthcoming review.
The Lord Bishop of Bristol: My Lords, I will speak to Amendments 173C, 196A and 200A in my name and I support Amendment 173B, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Beecham. I am grateful for the way in which he introduced this group of amendments.
Members of your Lordships’ House will be only too aware that the House has rehearsed the arguments around betting shops, and in particular fixed-odds betting terminals, numerous times in the past year, and there seems to be little need to repeat them here in detail. We know that violent crime is on the increase in betting premises—up 68% in London over the past five years—and it seems very likely that the increasing reliance of betting shops on FOBTs is a key reason for this trend. Continue reading “Policing and Crime Bill: Bishop of Bristol sponsors amendment to regulate betting machines”
On 9th November 2016, the House of Lords considered the Government’s Policing and Crime Bill at its Committee Stage. An amendment tabled by the Bishop of St Albans was debated that would allow local authorities to regulate the number of fixed-odds betting terminals in their areas. In the absence of the Bishop, Lord Beecham moved the amendment and the Bishop of Salisbury, Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, spoke in support:
The Lord Bishop of Salisbury My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Beecham, for moving the amendment. I stand in place of my colleague the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans, who is unable to be here today, in support of Amendment 214, which would grant new powers to local licensing authorities in regulating gaming machines on gambling premises. As the noble Lord, Lord Beecham, has already made clear, there is a strong case for measures that will help local authorities tackle gambling-related crime to be included in the Policing and Crime Bill. Continue reading “Policing and Crime Bill: Bishops propose tougher regulations on fixed-odds betting terminals”