Bookmakers Hit Back at BBC Panorama

Electronic Gaming Machines at a Bookmakers

The Association of British Bookmakers has reiterated that ‘there is no empirical evidence of a causal link between electronic gaming machines and problem gambling’.

This came in a statement published by the ABB in response to last night’s Panorama programme titled – Panorama, Gambling Nation.

In the program, ABB chief executive Dirk Vennix voiced his opinion that while problem gambling is an issue, it isn’t at the level where it could be considered dangerous.

The BBC program focused particularly on the fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) that can be found in high street bookmakers and made a point of the profit created by the industry – £5.6 billion in 2011 – during a recession.

Today’s unattributed statement emphasised much of what Vennix said on camera. On the subject of problem gambling it defended the industry and emphasised the efforts made to combat this issue.

It read: “Overall, gambling industry rates of problem gambling have remained relatively low in the UK at under one per cent since electronic gaming machines were introduced in betting shops in 2002.

“One problem gambler, however, is one too many. The whole gambling industry raises voluntary contributions worth £5 million each year to help fund research, prevention and treatment of problem gambling.”

The list of ABB members include some of Britain’s biggest bookmakers, many of which also operate online casinos. Gala Coral, Ladbrokes, William Hill and Paddy Power are among the more recognisable brands and together the members account for 80% of the total UK bookmakers market.

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