The moral panic being spread about gambling machines is grounded in myth, not evidence. In a close examination of the facts, new research, The Crack Cocaine of Gambling? Gambling machines in the UK, shows the key arguments being put forward to justify increased regulation of these machines are baseless:
- Problem gambling
Existing evidence does not support the claim that fixed-odds betting terminals have led to a nationwide rise in problem gambling, nor does the data suggest that these machines are uniquely addictive or seductive.
It is unclear whether there has been an increase in problem gambling since 2007 or not.
- A black market in gambling
Like other parts of the gambling sector, the bookmaking industry has responded to the market shifting towards virtual gaming. Opponents of fixed-odds betting terminals are aware that a severe reduction in stakes and prizes would reduce consumer appeal and amount to a de facto ban. Over-regulation would push customers to the less regulated online market and would probably lead to a surge in the black market. This would have a detrimental impact on employment in the industry and would significantly reduce tax revenue. Better regulation of the domestic gambling industry should focus on providing greater flexibility for new technology and larger stakes and prizes for venues which are higher up the regulatory pyramid.
- Numbers of betting shops
Gambling machines have not been responsible for a 'dramatic proliferation' of betting shops. Numbers have risen by just 4.5% since 2000, when numbers were at a record low. The number of betting shops in Britain began to decline in the late 1960s and reached an all-time low at the turn of the century. Since then, there has been a slight resurgence, with numbers rising by 4.5 per cent between 2000 and 2012. Contrary to popular belief, the book