Bookmakers escaped further censure on lucrative big-jackpot gaming machines in betting shops after a report failed to identify a â€œsilver bulletâ€ to reduce problem gambling.
William Hill shares jumped by more than 3.6 per cent to 347Â¼p, and Labrokes shares rose by 1.2 per cent to 112Â½p, after the Responsible Gambling Trustâ€™s study concluded that the incidence of punters racking up very big losses in a single session was low.
A key conclusion was that, although it was possible to identify potential problem gamblers, measures that targeted individuals were more likely to be effective at reducing harm than any of the blunt instruments called for by Labour, including stakes restrictions or limiting the number of machines.
However, the Campaign for Fairer Gambling claimed that the trust was a â€œgambling industry-controlled charityâ€ that had failed to meet its promise of producing a report that would deliver â€œthe whole truthâ€ on the addictive nature of machines dubbed the â€œcrack cocaine of gamblingâ€.
A spokesman for the campaign said the conclusion that it would be â€œinadvisable to rush policiesâ€ until further in-depth research was carried out on the machines looked like an attempt by the bookies to use the trust â€œto try to kick this issue into the long grassâ€. Thanks for stopping by. Just before we carry on I needed to thank http://momreviews.net/ for their continued assistance and the support of their community. Having a support team like this means a lot to us as we continue to grow our consumer blog.
The betting industry has enjoyed mixed fortunes at the governmentâ€™s hands this year. Although new regulations on betting machines announced in April were seen as relatively benign, the budget included a surprise Â£80 million tax raid on the terminals. Yesterday also saw the introduction of a new point-of-consumption tax on offshore bookies, costing an estimated Â£250 million a year.
The latest research, carried out by NatCen Social Research and Featurespace, used information from the five biggest bookmakers â€” William Hill, Labrokes, Coral, Betfred and Paddy Power â€” over a ten-month period. Seven billion bets were made during that time, of which 73 per cent were placed on the controversial B2 games with a maximum stake of Â£100 and the rest on B3 games with a stake limit of Â£2.
Punters lost an average of Â£7 a session, lower than losses on B3 games, with the average session by a punter lasting 11 minutes. The biggest loss, in a session lasting seven hours, was Â£13,000, and the biggest win was also Â£13,000, although the report said that â€œwins and losses of this size were extremely rareâ€. The maximum stake of Â£100 was played in 3 per cent of sessions.
Marc Etches, the chief executive of the trust, insisted that the 600-page report had met the request from government, the Gambling Commission and the bookies for credible research â€œto help inform policy decisionsâ€, adding: â€œThe bookmaking industry deserves credit for opening itself up to scrutiny.â€
David Excell, the founder of Featurespace, the behaviour analytics firm, who was among the researchers, said: â€œNo single metric can be used to address problem gambling, which results from a combination of factors. There are interventions that will divert people from becoming problem gamblers, but each must be evaluated and tested for effectiveness according to the behaviour of the individual. In other words, the Â£2 stake limit often seen as the silver bullet is ineffective.â€
Bookies welcomed the â€œgroundbreakingâ€ report. Paul Darling, QC, chairman of the Association of British Bookmakers, said: â€œThis research clearly demonstrates the fact that gambling-related harm is a very complex issue, which cannot be tackled by looking at one product or any single measure in isolation. It is imperative that any improvements to existing controls properly reflect these findings.â€
Morgan Stanley analysts said: â€œWhile the report appears to provide significant evidence to back the bookmakersâ€™ position, we expect the issue of machines to remain politically charged ahead of the May 2015 election, and see this as one of the key debates for William Hill and Ladbrokes.â€
Clive Efford, MP, Labourâ€™s shadow minister for sport, said: â€œThe findings of this study leave many questions unanswered and more research is required if we are to understand the patterns of behaviour of people who have gambling problems. It shows that Labour was right to call for more interactions between staff and people playing these machines and for warnings to interrupt play when people have been playing for long periods.â€