Bookies lobby ministers at least once a month

  • Lobbyists for the betting industry met the government once every three weeks
  • Campaigners want the maximum wager on machines dramatically reduced
  • Currently punters can lose £100 with every spin of a machine in a bookmaker’s
  • Those opposing the machines claim the industry has ‘infiltrated’ government  

Gambling industry lobbyists held meetings with civil servants or ministers in charge of betting policy 16 times in 11 months.

Campaigners for gambling curbs claimed it showed the industry had open-door access to the Culture Department after talks took place every three weeks on average.

Those pushing for restrictions on fixed-odds betting terminals – known as the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling machines – warned that the figures suggested the department had been ‘infiltrated’.

The government are considering plans to reduce the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals which can be as high as £100 per game

Brian Chappell, of Justice for Punters, said: ‘How can they be independent when they are continually being fed gambling industry propaganda?’

The revelations from a Freedom of Information request came amid fears that a crackdown on the terminals, which earn £1.8billion for bookmakers every year, will be a damp squib.

This week, a long-awaited review of the machines, on which punters play addictive casino-style games in high street bookies, led to fury when hopes for an immediate cut in the maximum £100 stake to just £2 were dashed.

Instead, ministers proposed another review and suggested the top stake could still be up to £50.

A Culture Department spokesman said it was ‘nonsense’ to suggest the Government was ‘in the pocket of the gambling industry’ and said officials also met campaign groups for tougher gambling laws.

An Association of British Bookmakers spokesman said that in the past year the Government had consulted the industry on horse and greyhound racing, gaming machines and responsible gambling.

He added: ‘Consequently, it would be expected for the industry to meet officials on a regular basis.’