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The Welsh government will soon get the power to ban Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (also known as FOBTs) in Welsh bookmakers. A report from BBC News states that the UK government has approved the change. As a result, ministers in Wales will be able to have full control over FOBT licensing.
The Campaign For Fairer Gambling has been running an initiative to stop FOBTs. The machines have received very bad press in recent times, including a BBC Panorama documentary earlier this year.
Current legislation limits the number of FOBTs that can be present in a single bookmaker. Only four FOBTs per shop are permitted. However several betting firms have sought to get round this by simply opening multiple shops on the same high streets.
Campaigners state that the machines are addictive and that bookmakers do not do enough to control problem gamblers. They state that the machines should have their stakes limited to just £2, or be banned altogether.
Online bookmakers and casinos will not be affected by this change, since they are not considered to have the same impact on problem gamblers as the real world betting terminals. Sports betting and other traditional forms of betting will also be unaffected. It seems that the terminals themselves are the issue, not gambling as a whole.
In response to the news, the Association of British Bookmakers said betting shops in Wales were the “safest place” to gamble as they were the most highly regulated retailer on the high street.
“No betting shop in Wales can open without a licence from their local authority, and must abide by over 90 pages of regulations,” they said.