The Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) has said that there is no evidence that Electronic Gaming Machines (EGMs) cause problem gambling.
The association has welcomed a new consultation by DCMS on a package of measures changing the maximum stake and prize limits for a range of gaming machines situated in arcades, bingo premises, casinos and pubs and clubs in Britain.
The ABB said it welcomes the Government’s call for an evidence-based debate around EGMs.
“We are as keen as anyone to see the outcomes of genuinely independent empirical research so that there can be a proper evidence-led debate around gambling policy, particularly in respect of machines across the gambling industry,” the association said.
“EGMs are a highly popular feature in around 8500 Licensed Betting Offices and are played responsibly and enjoyably by millions of people every year.
“Their popularity does not necessarily mean that they are or cause a problem.
“We acknowledge that there is some public concern around the issue. However, much of this has been fuelled by reports based upon a "corrupted" use of data and the generation of myths and half-truths.
“There is no proven causal link between EGMs in betting offices and problem gambling.
“The Responsible Gambling Trust has just embarked upon the most wide ranging piece of research into electronic gaming machines with high stakes and prizes ever seen in Britain.
“This will significantly add to the evidence base around machines and machine players. The ABB is pleased that this new and independently-led research will be undertaken and hopes that it will deal with some of the myths surrounding EGMs once and for all.”
The ABB said the percentage of identified problem gamblers playing on our machines actually went down by around 20% according to the 2010 BGPS and 70% of people who use electronic gaming machines in shops only do so once a month or less.
Minister for Sport and Tourism, Hugh Robertson said:
"The Government's response balances the need to acknowledge gambling's contribution to the economy with an explicit recognition of the need to protect players, particularly at the higher end stakes.
“We recognise the current concerns about the impact of such machines, are undertaking an evidence based review and will take action if necessary."