How not to run a Government.

One of my pet hates are the F.O.B.T. (Fixed Odds Betting Terminals ) Machines, and their pernicious presence in betting shops up and down this once-pleasant land of ours. The Christian Institute echoes my concerns, and with the capability to allow a gambler with a credit card, together with an unshaken belief that the next spin will be ‘the one’ is always there, the addicts can, and do, lose eye-watering amounts of cash in a single session. The simple truth about gambling machines, mechanical (old school) or modern electronic types is that there is a bias, set into the very basic layout of the machinery’s innards, that the House always wins. A speedy review of the majors in gambling provide an interesting statistic, with the leader, William Hill, booking a massive $2.17 billions. Obviously the UK’s proportion of those earnings is smaller, but still substantial, and the tax take to HMRC is again, substantial.

I once worked in the commissioning phase of a Casino, and I can state, categorically, that the machines are as fixed as expected, the odds are set, and the House always wins. The manner in which this was shown was the view of three strong-armed casino staff members using flattened paddles, to wedge open an already crushed safe interior, stuffed with wads of cash so that ever more wedges of bundled notes could be shoved in, until the armoured bank truck appeared on the Monday morning, complete with armed escort, to transport the House winnings to the safety of a bank vault. But, as I was writing about a Government, our Government; I digress!

There has been, for years, ever since the lunacies of not only loosening the Gambling Law belt, we saw the surrender to the Gambling Companies, the vast expansion of casinos, and later the speedy avalanche both of online gambling; and the steady advance of these machines which hold a hook out, with a metaphorical carrot of winning based on the really silly idea of “It’ll be my turn on the very next spin”. My headline stated ‘How not to run a Government’ and I shall now demonstrate that very thesis.

With headlines such as “Gamblers in poorest constituencies are spending the most money” and “William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral and Paddy Power collectively making more than £1 billion a year from the machines.”, the Government was warned, years ago, that the scourge of the  F.O.B.T.s was becoming ever larger, and that they should actively place exemplary measures in place to protect those who simply cannot protect themselves. So what did this truly caring Government do? They held a series of Committee meetings, with that same committee packed with MP’s who sat comfortably in the back pockets of the gambling companies, and decided to do: absolutely nothing! They then, stung by criticism from all quarters, decided to hold a Consultation; and asked, well, ‘What do you reckon? Should we drop the £100.00 top limit to £2.00; oh and what about Bingo prizes?’

They have the ability to Legislate, right now, and ban all those pernicious F.O.B.T. pieces of electronic excrescence from anywhere within the borders of the U.K.. But will they? Just think of all that lovely cash flowing towards the HMRC coffers which the Government must forgo if those machines are banned. And then you will see the redundancy notices handed out to the betting shop employees, who supervised, but never, ever warned a single punter that maybe he should quit, and cut his losses!

The Labour surrender was blessed by the Tories, and the tax take was too good to ignore!

Don’t get me wrong, I pay the ‘Stupid Tax’ alongside millions of others, but once a week, £2.50 is not exactly placing me on skid row, or anywhere near it.

9 comments for “How not to run a Government.

  1. January 8, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    “The house always wins”

    Who knew eh?

    • Voice of Reason
      January 8, 2018 at 8:31 pm

      Where in Cyprus? I lived in Pergamos and Dhekelia, and my Dad built a long stretch of road north from Paphos.

      • January 8, 2018 at 9:04 pm

        Pissouri – half way between Limassol and Pafos… 15 years now!

  2. Stonyground
    January 8, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    I’m a bit divided on this. Nobody forces people to throw their money away on these machines. I’m always wary about demands for more state nannying, and also wary about being in favour of some nannying as long as it’s only applied to other people. On the other hand I do see your point about the way that it is possible to run up a massive loss in a really short time and if there were some kind of limit it would possibly prevent that. I like a day at the races from time to time but I never bet more than £4 on a race, I sometimes come away a little bit richer but I don’t fret if I don’t. It’s just an enjoyable day out for me.

    • Mudplugger
      January 8, 2018 at 8:06 pm

      I take the same view on the constant pressure to outlaw ticket-touts – no-one is ever forced to pay so far over the face-value to see any act, it’s a free decision in a free market, one where the customer makes a personal value-judgement.

      If the punters stopped paying it, the touts would stop selling it, so who’s to blame? Certainly not the government.

    • January 8, 2018 at 9:09 pm


      Problem gamblers are rather like problem drinkers…

      Taking away FOBMs won’t solve the problem… they’ll just bet on something else.

      I don’t gambol because I hate losing.

  3. opsimath
    January 8, 2018 at 6:33 pm

    I sympathise with much you have to say, but as Stonyground observes, no-one is twisting your arm to play these things.

    Rather like alcoholism — and I speak from personal knowledge here — it is not ‘society’s problem’ but rests with the individual.

    I have never condemned alcohol as being ‘bad’, but I know it is something I must steer clear of, and I have done for the last thirty-plus years,

    No-one says it is going to be easy — but it can be done. If I can do it, anyone can do it.

  4. Frank
    January 8, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    I also used to pay the stupid tax, happy in the “knowledge” that it was going to good causes. When I realised that the “good cause” that most of the money went to was buying Olympic gold medals, not cancer charities or to help sick children or something like that, I stopped.

  5. January 9, 2018 at 3:37 am

    Just think of all that lovely cash flow.


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