UK MPs blasted by Standards Commissioner over FOBT report
The UK’s Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Hudson, has hit out at the all Party Parliamentary Group’s (APPG) report into fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs), saying that it breached parliamentary standards.
Earlier this year, the APPG published a report that called for the maximum stake on FOBTs to be cut from £100 (€117.80/$129.34) per spin to just £2.
However, the report led to a war of words between the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) and opponents of FOBTs, with the former issuing an official complaint to Hudson.
The ABB claimed that the APPG report, funded by a number of anti-FOBT groups, was “misleading” and “deeply flawed”.
Following a review, Hudson found that the report breached various standards, including a failure to record who attended APPG meetings and take proper minutes, as well as a lack of transparency about free advice the group received from a public affairs firm employed by gambling operators that do not run FOBTs.
Labour MP Carolyn Harris, who chairs the group, has been forced to make an apology over the matter and made to rectify changes.
Malcolm George, chief executive of the ABB, which represents many of the major bookmakers in the UK, praised Hudson’s decision and branded MPs in the APPG “serial offenders”.
“We are delighted the Standards Commissioner recognised four clear breaches of the rules and upheld our complaint; the flimsy research and secrecy behind this fatally flawed and deeply discredited report has now been laid bare,” George said in a statement.
“This group of MPs are now revealed as serial offenders for their misleading report about gaming machines in betting shops.
“MPs have been rightly criticised for their woeful lack of transparency.
“This small and unrepresentative group of anti-FOBT MPs failed to make it clear they were funded by vested interests included commercial rivals of High Street bookmakers.
“The group failed to keep proper records of which parliamentarians, if any, came to their secretive meetings.
“The MPs’ report has been exposed as a shambolic, shoddy and one-sided piece of work that has broken a long list of parliamentary rules.”
Related article: All Party Parliamentary Group report calls for £2 maximum stake on FOBTs