We are working with the Gambling Commission, the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board, the Responsible Gambling Trust and the industry itself to rapidly advance our understanding. Dealing with problem gambling and protecting the vulnerable are priorities for this Government.
A recent study conducted in the London borough of Newham found that 87% of gamblers believed B2 machines to be addictive, and many described them as the crack cocaine of gambling. Will the Minister assure gamblers that the Government will listen to their personal evidence and experiences, and respond to them as a matter of urgency?
Has the Minister read the Association of British Bookmakers’ code for responsible gambling and player protection in licensed betting offices, which has been released recently? If so, does she think it goes any way to allaying the fears of many Members?
I refer Members to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.
Is the Minister aware that virtually every new gambling product since the 1970s has been referred to as the crack cocaine of gambling and that to think that this is unique is ridiculous? Given that people can lose an unlimited amount of money within a minute on a five-furlong sprint at Epsom, does she agree that opposition to FOBTs is ridiculous, particularly given that they have a bigger rate of return for the punter—97%—than any other gambling product in any betting shop or casino, or anywhere else for that matter?
My hon. Friend raises some interesting issues, but work has begun and we will look at all the evidence and all the research. In addition, we will put pressure on the industry to develop its own harm mitigation measures. We must ensure that those measures work and that their success is evaluated.