Gambling: customers to set their own money and time limits on machines to curb addiction

A new code launched by the industry will also see staff in bookkeepers  better trained to spot problem gamblers

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The Independent Online

People who gamble on gaming machines will be able to impose limits on the amount of time and money they spend, following a new code of conduct launched by the industry.

The new rules set by the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) to “tackle problem gambling” will also see customers receive mandatory alerts when they spend over £250 or have played for 30 minutes.

In addition, betting shop staff will receive training to identify and support customers with gambling problems.

In a move that the ABB claims is a world first, customers will set their own limits on the time and money they want to spend on a machine.

When a user’s time limit is reached, the machine will enforce a 30-second break in play, and staff will also be alerted.

33,000 machines in England and Wales will have the technology installed, but testing and installation requirement will mean the measures may take up to six months to introduce.

Coming into effect tomorrow, the ABB says its code has the “full support” of the gambling industry.

ABB chief executive Dirk Vennix said: “The code will help give players more control and encourage responsible gambling. It forms part of the industry's ongoing, proactive efforts to be socially responsible, to tackle problem gambling and to ensure a duty of care towards every customer.

"We recognise growing concerns that some customers are spending too much money or too much time on gaming machines.

“That is why we have put together the code, which introduces revolutionary new harm minimisation measures, the likes of which have yet to be seen anywhere in the world.

“We believe the measures strike the right balance between protecting customers without stopping the enjoyment of the eight million people who play on gaming machines without any problems," he added.

But Gambling Minister Helen Grant said: "The new player protection code is a positive step in the right direction from the industry, but we think more could be done.

“Problem gambling is a serious issue and we are determined to help tackle it. We want there to be a competitive gambling sector but not at the expense of public protection, and our ongoing review is focused on that."

Dirk Hansen, chief executive of gambling advice service GamCare, said he welcomes the moves that he says offer greater protection for players and encourage responsible play.

“These new measures will not only educate players to the risks associated with gambling but also empower individuals to get support when they need it," he said.

Additional reporting by PA