The proposed level of control of fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) across Scotland is to be the focus of an inquiry by the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Regeneration Committee.
As part of the Scotland Bill currently being considered at Westminster, the Scottish Government will be given the power to vary the number of FOBTs on new betting premises. The Committee will examine what these powers will mean and what consequences this will have and it wants to hear from people living and working in the communities where these machines exist.
Committee Convener, Kevin Stewart MSP said:
“Fixed odds betting terminals have become a familiar sight in betting shops across the country. But these are not without controversy. Tales of addiction and loss are not hard to find.
“The Scotland Bill proposes devolving power over these machines to the Scottish Government and our Committee will be examining what this will mean in practice and what impact this is likely to have for communities where these machines are prevalent.
“The Scottish Government has already said the proposed Scotland Bill powers don’t go far enough and we will look at what alternative proposals would mean for Scotland’s high streets.”
The Committee has today launched a call for written submissions and in particular is keen to hear from those who have been affected by FOBTs as well as those who have machines on their premises. The Committee is asking:
- What would be the benefits and disadvantages for you as a consequence of the UK Government’s proposed provision in the Scotland Bill 2015-16?
- What would be the benefits and disadvantages for you as a consequence of the proposed alternative provision suggested by the Scottish Government?
- Are there any changes in this area of law you would like to see which are not covered by either proposal, and why?
FOBTs are electronic machines, sited in betting shops, which contain a variety of games, including roulette. Each machine accepts bets of amounts up to a pre-set maximum and pays out according to fixed odds on the simulated outcomes of games. The maximum stake on a single bet is £100, the maximum prize is £500.
Currently betting, gaming and lotteries are all matters reserved to Westminster. However, clause 45 of The Scotland Bill proposes devolving legislative competence in relation to gaming machines authorised by a betting premises licence where the maximum charge for a single play is more than £10.
The Gambling Act 2005 would be amended so the Scottish Ministers would be able to vary the number of machines allowed on betting premises. The power will only apply to applications for new premises.