Australia and New Zealand aren’t the only countries in which poker machines present a point of contention between politicians and residents. In the United Kingdom, lawmakers are also at odds over pokie regulations. This week, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he start an investigation into gaming machines across the United Kingdom and determine whether or not they should be banned from betting shops.
In the UK, gaming machines that are located in betting shops are referred to as fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs). Over the course of the past year, responsible gambling advocates have started speaking out against FOBTs, stating that there is an overabundance of these games in betting shops that are located in major cities.
Mr Cameron’s vow to investigate FOBTs was a response to a question from MP Tom Watson, who stated that gaming machines are turning ‘local bookies into digital casinos’. He noted that the Irish government has already banned pokies from betting shops, and that England should follow suit.
“I do think it is worth having a proper look at this issue, to see what we can do to make sure that, yes, we have bookmakers that are not over-regulated, but on the other hand, a fair approach and a decent approach that prevents problem gambling,” Cameron said. According to the BBC, Mr Watson accused the response of being ‘vague’; however, he does applaud the Premier for putting the issue on his agenda.
There are currently more than 33 000 FOBTs in betting shops across the United Kingdom. In 2012, they generated more than £1.4 billion in wagers from local punters. Responsible gambling advocates hope that Cameron’s review of the country’s gaming machines will result in stricter regulations that would help to reduce gambling losses from punters across the UK.