This week, the Opposition forced the UK government to vote on a law that would change the way gaming machines and betting shops are regulated. The new law had potential to help reduce problem gambling rates across the country, but federal politicians voted against the motion yesterday. The law would classify betting shops as gambling venues, removing them from the same category as banks.
As such, local city councillors would have the power to control how many betting shops are permitted in their jurisdictions and limit gaming machine numbers. On Wednesday, January 8, the bill was presented to the House of Commons. The majority voted against the bill, as 314 opposed the motion and 232 supported it.
Prior to the vote, the Opposition was hopeful that MPs from the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition parties would vote in favour of the bill, but that was not the case. Despite the results of the vote, Prime Minister David Cameron stated that he is also concerned about the effects of gaming machines on local communities. However, he is reluctant to take action until a report on the topic is published.
Cameron also noted that the Opposition got the government into this mess. Several years ago, Labour passed a law that allowed betting shops to offer gaming machines, leading to the increase in FOBTs on high streets. Now, the party is attempting to undo the damage, but the Prime Minister will not act on these concerns without due process.
So, it will be quite some time before gaming machine laws are reformed in the United Kingdom. It seems that politicians overseas are having just as hard a time as Australian responsible gambling advocates with regards to reforming gambling laws to help reduce potential harm.