Some problem gamblers who have banned themselves from bookmakers can continue to wager because staff don’t recognise them or machines are hidden out of view, industry-funded research finds
A scheme to help gambling machine addicts will not properly protect at-risk individuals without “significant changes” such as the introduction of an electronic ID system, according to new research.
People who feel their gambling is out of control can register to exclude themselves from specified bookmakers, meaning they should be barred, but flaws in the system mean some individuals are able to continue placing bets, new research for leading charity GambleAware has found.
Managers said the system is not always effective because employees don’t spot people who have registered and self-service machines are often sited out of view.
The murky battleground over FOBTs is of MPs’ making
More than half of the bookmaker managers questioned said the biggest issues was the volume of gambling addicts staff had to keep tabs on. This is a particular problem for shops with large numbers of customers or a high turnover of staff, the report said.
Controversial fixed-odds betting terminals present by far the biggest danger, staff said. The machines allow customers to wager up to £100 every 20 seconds and have come under fire for their addictive potential.
One manager questioned told researchers: “The volume of exclusions, all of which seem to be FOBT, makes the situation more difficult to manage due to the location of most FOBT zones in our shops.”
The scheme began in April 2016 and around 2,800 problem gamblers have now registered. There are plans to expand it, meaning identification issues could get worse as staff have to recognise more customers.
“There are challenges in upholding 100 per cent of exclusions in the current scheme format, which cannot be overcome unless there are significant changes to the systems used by operators,” the report stated. It said there was “appetite” to introduce membership cards or an electronic ID requirement.