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As the campaign moves up a gear, it comes as no surprise that our opponents – who take the form of both the bookmakers and some Members of Parliament – are desperate to discredit us. Philip Davies, the Conservative MP for Shipley, attempted to do so back in December when he complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about an advert we placed in House magazine.

Mr. Davies complained in a personal capacity about five statements concerning FOBTs, yet shortly after the complaint was submitted it transpired that he’d taken hospitality from Ladbrokes before the select committee inquiry into the Gambling Act. Despite the Code of Conduct for MPs clearly stating this must be declared at select committee, he failed to mention the benefit before interviewing Ladbrokes CEO Richard Glynn. The subsequent report by the committee into the Gambling Act recommended lifting the cap of four FOBTs per shop. Recently, the ASA announced that it had rejected all five of Mr. Davies’ complaints about our advert.

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Campaign event

Alongside our attendance at the three main party conferences this year, the Campaign for Fairer Gambling’s Adrian Parkinson will be debating whether local authorities should be given more power to restrict the number and activities of betting shops in their area.

The debate is being held on 12th September at Whitechapel Ideas Store in Whitechapel Road. Kicking off at 7pm, Adrian will be speaking in favour of the motion alongside Steve Shaw, National coordinator of Local Works. Chairing the debate will be Councillor Peter Golds.

Adrian will have ten minutes to discuss the effects that betting shops are having on local communities before an audience Q&A session and a vote on the motion. Although this is a free debate, ticket numbers are limited. To confirm your attendance, please register your interest here.

Campaign in the news

Medway Council condemned the Government’s inaction on the maximum stake in a piece for ITV Meridian, in which I also feature, talking about my addiction. It’s more important than ever that we do our best to try and overcome the stigma associated with addiction to FOBTs. This is an addictive product, so becoming addicted to them is nothing to be ashamed of. The more people who are willing to come forward, the better, as we don’t want the extent of this issue to be concealed. If you want to get in touch with me about that, my email is matt@fairergambling.org but writing a letter about it to your MP would also be a great help.

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Read our blogs

Meanwhile, we’ve also been busy blogging about a number of topics. Firstly, the Campaign for Fairer Gambling has obtained numerous documents under the Freedom of Information Act, including the quarterly report from the Gambling Commission (GC) staff to their board dated 1/2/2010. Within it, the findings state: “virtual gaming machines maintained a significant positive relationship to disordered gambling status.” To read our thoughts on this somewhat innocuous statement, the post is online here. Next, it seems the DCMS has delayed the release date on their FOBT findings until late (very late it seems) summer. The Campaign discusses whether this is, yet again, business as usual for the DCMS and why there is still no action on FOBTs. Finally, after the GC and RGSB mistakenly implied that we used the term ‘ratio’ interchangeably in our research, we question whether these “responsible” parties really understand gambling analysis.

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Matt Zarb-Cousin

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