I work for as a part-time betting shop manager for a bookmaker that cannot be named (for keeping my job purposes), while studying for my degree. Reading the news in today’s newspapers, I ask myself this question: What planet is Tessa Jowell on?
“Gambling is on the increase. People want to gamble, and technology allows many new forms of gambling. Existing regulation is inadequate and leaves people exposed to risk, so, through the Gambling Act 2005, we have placed the protection of children and other vulnerable people at the heart of gambling regulation for the first time.”
- Tessa Jowell
Gambling is on the increase. If so, why are you catering to its demand and encouraging its growth by building casinos all over central and northern England? Gambling is on the increase because of the culture and ethos of careless spending that New Labour has created. Lets have a look at the current exposure from betting shops, before we even start with casinos:
- There are approximately 8000 betting shops in the U.K. Many of you will not be aware of this, but as of this April betting shops will be allowed to stay open 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, 363 days a year, as part of the new and better ‘regulation’. At present, they can only stay open in the evenings between April and August – between September and March they are open 8 hours a day. They will still be limited to 7 hours trading on Sunday.
- This will total 230 million hours of exposure per annum.
- On average, there is now one betting opportunity every 2 minutes, be it Horse racing, Greyhound racing or Virtual racing. That is 360 betting opportunities everyday.
- Each betting shop is allowed four ‘Fixed Odds Betting Terminals’ (FOBTs). 99.9% of games played are roulette. At present, you can bet up to £100 on a single spin of roulette every 30 seconds and win a maximum of £500. Three weeks ago, one of my punters managed to lose £1920, and that took him just 2 hours. On one occasion where I was running a particularly busy shop, these machines in excess of £10000 and made £5000 profit.
- Assuming most betting shops have four FOBTs, that is 32000 FOBTs on the high street today.
- The FOBT phenomenon even took the bookies by surprise. They now generate revenues in the hundreds of millions and actively promote them within the betting shops. These machines are the only reason why there is evening opening and ‘night racing.’
- Opening for an extra 3.75 hours a day for 7 months will expose people to these machines for an additional 252 million hours. The new ‘Super Casino in Manchester will expose people to an extra 11 million hours to similar machines (1250 (Number of Machines) x 24 (Number of Hours) x 365 (Days in a Year)). In essence, the Super Casino is the very public tip of an enormous hidden iceberg.
- Added to this, there is further exposure from Bingo Halls, Race Courses, Amusement Arcades, TV and most worryingly, the Internet.
I have been working for the bookmaker that cannot be named for just over 2 years now and cannot begin to describe the damage that I have seen inflicted on society in such a short space of time. As a shop manager, there is nothing that I can do to stop a problem gambler. I can only sit there and watch human beings turn into tortured, button-pressing zombies. If I told some of my punters what I think (e.g. “I think you have a problem as you should seek some help”), I would lose my job. Most notably, the introduction of FOBTs a few years ago has caused immense social damage – they, along with the machines in Casinos are the crack-cocaine of gambling in the U.K. Here is a short video I found which can give you a rough idea of how they work.
Its not a great quality video, but the guy is absolutely right. These very machines will be adorning the new casinos up and down the country… and I find that very worrying. I personally think they should be banned or severely limited (e.g. £20 maximum stakes rather than the present £100 limit).