Big four bookmakers unite to promote responsible gambling

William Hill's James Henderson''''Picture: Hannah Smiles
William Hill's James Henderson''''Picture: Hannah Smiles
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BRITAIN’S BIGGEST bookmakers have joined forces to promote responsible gambling, in a measure that will help tackle controversial betting machines that lost Yorkshire gamblers more than £110m last year.

William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral and Paddy Power have committed to a package of measures launched to address public concerns about the industry.

The measures, which comes into force on October 1, include tackling the amount staked on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) and children being exposed to gambling adverts.

In February, The Yorkshire Post revealed that £112m was gambled away in the region last year on FOTBS, dubbed the “crack cocaine” of gambling.

In total, estimates by lobby group the Campaign for Fairer Gambling suggested more than £3bn was staked on the addictive machines in Yorkshire in 2013 – around £600 for every man, woman and child.

The pledge includes withdrawing all advertising of gaming machines from betting shop windows and a voluntary ban on advertising sign-up offers such as free bets and free money on TV before 9pm.

A new independent body called the Senet Group will also be established next year to hold the industry to account.

It will be headed by an independent standards commissioner and aim to protect “vulnerable” gamblers, as well as having the power to “name and shame” or fine operators in breach of codes of practice.

The voluntary measures will initially only apply to the four founding companies but they are calling on others to sign up.

Richard Glynn, chief executive of Ladbrokes, said the companies were “alive to the concerns of the public to keep gambling a responsible and fun activity.”

James Henderson, chief executive of William Hill, said: “The launch of the Senet Group sets a benchmark by which we and the betting industry can be judged.”

In April the Government announced local authorities would be given more power to control the number of betting shops opening in their area.