Swansea Psychologist gives evidence to Parliamentary Group’s Inquiry on Gambling Machines

Wales has an excessive gambling problem. According to recent figures, 4.5% of males aged between 25 and 34 years old have a gambling problem, and a similar proportion are deemed at risk of developing a problem. Overall, the prevalence rate of problem gambling in Wales is estimated to be 1.1% of the population.

Simon DymondIn Wales and across the UK, many people gamble on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs). There were 1450 such machines in Wales in 2012. Based on these figures, the average staked on each machine was just over £1,000,000 per year or about £3,000 per day. Pre-tax profit per machine was about £34,000.

Now, a cross-party group of MPs has called for the maximum stakes on FOBTs to be cut from £100 to £2. The FOBTs All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) held its final evidence hearing session last week, which was attended by Dr Simon Dymond, (pictured) Reader in Psychology, along with several other invited experts from the gambling field.

Dr Dymond said: “There is an urgent need for more research into the effects of these machines. For too long, the gambling industry has held sway over government and public policy, but this issue is just too important to be studied by industry. I called on the APPG to urge government to better fund research into gambling in the UK and to develop an empirical basis for the suggested change in maximum stake size.”

The APPG has since called for a lowering of the stake size; the response of government is awaited.