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Complainant Name:
Mr Dirk Vennix

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: The People


Mr Dirk Vennix, on behalf of the Association of British Bookmakers, complained to the Press Complaints Commission, under Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Opportunity to reply) of the Editors' Code of Practice, that the newspaper had published inaccurate, misleading and distorted information in an article about betting machines, and had failed to promptly correct the inaccuracies once notified, or provide the ABB with a fair opportunity to reply.


The newspaper denied any breach of the Code, or that the article had contained any inaccuracy. The complaint was resolved after the PCC negotiated the publication of the following letter, as a gesture of goodwill:

The issue of problem gambling and betting machines is complex and one which the gambling industry takes extremely seriously. As a responsible industry, we fully understand that some may have concerns about the machines and that is why the industry has adopted the Association of British Bookmakers' voluntary Code of Conduct which promotes responsible gambling and player protection - particularly with regard to machines, including mandatory and voluntary limits on money and time spent. However, we believe there are still a lot of misconceptions about betting machines currently percolating in the media. We therefore want to set the record straight in relation to a number of statements contained in the article "The crack cocaine of gambling" on 24 November 2013.

• Betting machines "cost punters £8.5bn a year" This statement suggests that the industry generates £8.5bn in profits per year from the machines. However, statistics collated by the Gambling Commission clearly indicate that profit from the machines is in fact around £1.5bn annually.

• "Gamblers can put in cash or bank cards then enter their stake and play"

As prescribed by law, betting shops cannot and do not allow customers to insert debit or credit cards into the machines.

• "The terminals calculate the results and pays out, or more often, doesn't"

In fact, the average return to player rate on the machines is between 92% and 97% and is published on the machines.

The industry is committed to minimising gambling related harm and is proud that due to the efforts taken the levels of problem gambling in the UK remain low. In fact, the level has remained relatively constant for over a decade despite the introduction of machines in 2001. We hope that these levels will decrease still further following full implementation of our Code of Conduct.

Date Published: 27/05/2014

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