While Government claims FOBTs are “a problem”, chancellor Osborne takes betting tycoon on trade mission.
While Britain’s struggling to put an end to the social problems caused by fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs), chancellor George Osborne adds fuel to the fire by inviting betting tycoon Luke Alvarez on a trade mission.
Along with 19 other businessmen, the head of betting machine maker Inspired Gaming Group was handpicked to join Osborne on his trip to China. Alvarez’s company supplies nearly half of UK’s betting machines and now anti-gambling campaigners doubt the Government’s commitment to modify British gambling laws and limit FOBTs.
According to the latest gambling news, the visit to China was designed to “showcase the best of Britain’s digital technology industry, strengthen ties between British and Chinese companies and help British companies gain access to the fast-expanding Chinese market”.
Anti-gambling campaigners outraged
Last week, Government representatives refused to change current regulations and give local councils the power to limit the number of FOBTs, but claimed they were aware of the problem. “Everyone was surprised when the government was unresponsive to call for reform of FOBTs. Now we know why – they were too busy jet-setting with the makers of the machines,” Labour MP Tom Watson accused.
Matt Zarb-Cousins, member of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, believes prime-minister David Cameron “appears to care more about the profits of the firm that makes them”. “The Government should protect people from addictive gambling products rather than the interest of the betting industry,” he added.