Fixed odds betting terminals, the code of practice, and problem gambling: A Report for the Association of British Bookmakers Limited

Abstract

AIMS:To measure and explain levels of problem gambling amongst FOBT users, in the context of benchmarks of other gambling activities (particularly machines) both within and outside of the betting shop. To assess the effectiveness of the FOBT Code of Practice, and the individual elements within it, in providing protection against problem gambling. METHOD: Six Omnibus surveys were conducted, covering a total of 11,988 adults. These covered gambling habits, attitudes, and expenditure of adults who gambled at least once per month ("regular gamblers"), together with their awareness of FOBTs and a problem gambling screen (DSM-IV). In waves 3 to 6, questions and responses excluded lotteries, scratchcards, bingo and football pools. Also, 945 interviews were carried out in 43 betting shops. RESULTS: Waves 1 and 2 established that 42 per cent of the adult population gamble in one or more ways at least once per month. 78 per cent of regular gamblers say they have never seen a FOBT or heard of them. Of the 19 per cent that had, 83 per cent said they had never used one. Waves 1 and 2 found 0.6 per cent of the adult population who play FOBTs once per month or more. In waves 3 to 6, 8 per cent of the sample were regular gamblers. Among regular betting shop customers, 28 per cent claim not to be aware of FOBTs. Of the 51 per cent of regular gamblers who were aware of FOBTs, only 16 per cent use them once per month or more. The betting shop interviews found that per cent of regular betting shop customers playing FOBTs. 47 per cent of these play "usually/most times" or "always/every time" when they visit betting shops. The average amount staked was £17.25. Of 945 betting shop customers interviewed, 8 per cent were found to be problem gamblers. Of these, 14 per cent play FOBTs once per month or more. Two thirds of users had never heard of the FOBT Code of Practice, only 1 per cent said they knew a lot about it. A net 67 per cent of FOBT players were in favour of displaying GamCare help. A net 53 per cent were in favour of limiting FOBTs and other machines to four per betting shop. A net 38 per cent were in favour of the minimum 20 second interval between bets. CONCLUSIONS: FOBT awareness among the adult population is low, and FOBT users represent not only a tiny fraction of the adult population, but also a small fraction even of regular gamblers. There is no evidence in this study which suggests that FOBTs are closely associated with problem gambling. There are indications that the marginal effects of the Code of Practice have been beneficial.

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