It's been a very busy few months for the Campaign but I'll limit our first newsletter to the events of recent weeks, as the last thing you need is a thesis in your inbox on a Monday. Some quite exciting things have happened as well, so let's crack on.

Newham loses battle with Paddy Power

Newham Council's high profile objection to an 83rd betting shop in the borough landed them in court against Paddy Power. It was the first time a local authority had objected to a betting shop on the basis that the primary gambling activity would be gaming on FOBTs rather than betting. Read more

Campaign heads to Airdrie

Adrian and I have been on the road recently, firstly attending a cross-party public meeting hosted by Southend Labour Councillor Julian Ware-Lane. We were then invited up to an Airdrie and Shotts Labour Party public meeting to talk about Stop the FOBTs and how we might help them with localised campaigning on the issue.

At both meetings, those in attendance were very supportive and the discussion was lively and thorough. We're often asked why we focus on FOBTs when so many issues have arisen since the Gambling Act. We're often nodding in agreement when people mention issues connected to online gambling and the prevalence of advertising aggressively pushing bet in play products. The answer is the Government can do something about FOBTs without primary legislation. So we take the view that if it's not going to sort out the most addictive form of gambling when there's an easy solution, then we're not going to have much luck with anything else!

Campaign asks the big questions

I recently went on The Big Questions to debate the (big) question "Does the law need to be tougher on gambling?" I was up against Dirk Vennix from the Association of British Bookmakers, and Christopher Snowden from the Institute of Economic Affairs - a libertarian think tank that refuses to declare who its donors are. It was an enjoyable debate centred on FOBTs, and everyone on the panel - and those in the audience who spoke - were supportive of us. What the bookmakers have tried to do in the past is imply that concern about FOBTs is entirely down to us, that we've just manufactured the outrage. This is, of course, complete nonsense. All we're doing is giving people with existing concerns a voice, and letting others know why betting shops are taking over their high streets.

You can watch the debate here, starting at around 22 minutes.

Campaign in the news

We've had some great coverage in the last few weeks. Campaign founder Derek Webb was quoted in a Guardian piece on the Newham case, arguing that the Gambling Commission is unfit for purpose. He also appeared on ITV News explaining how FOBTs are unfair to the player. I was quoted in a BBC feature on Newham, which featured extensive coverage of our polling, and also appeared on BBC London News talking about my addiction to FOBTs. Graham Jones MP has also spoken out about the shocking findings of our polling in Newham, which highlighted the poorest players are betting £19 per spin!

This week's blogs

A number of blog posts have gone onto the site this week. Adrian has blogged about the dangers of lone staffing in betting shops and why it has to stop. Betting shop staff have set up an E-petition, which you can sign here. Derek has blogged on how the bookmakers averted a separate review of FOBTs, why the Gambling Commission is not fit for purpose and the irresponsibility of the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board.

Don't forget to follow the campaign on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with the latest news.

Matt Zarb-Cousin

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