Bookmakers advocate slot machines
The organisation representing most Irish bookmakers has advocated to government the introduction of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), or slot machines to betting shops. The Irish Bookmakers Association (IBA), which represents 750 of Ireland's 1,100 betting shops, made the recommendation in its 2007 budget submission to the Department of Finance (obtained under the Freedom of Information Act).
A Davy Stockbrokers' report estimated that each slot machine would yield €18,556 in turnover per week. Were two slot machines introduced to each betting shop, this would equate to a national turnover of €2.12 billion and a one per cent gaming duty of €21.2 million annually.
The profit generated by slot machines invariably will be taken from the poor. Studies on slot machine use in the UK and Australia show that the machines are primarily patronised by lower occupational classes. These studies also show that slot machine players are more likely to develop gambling problems (again, primarily among poorer people). Gamblers who used slot machines accounted for over half of Britain's 284,000 problem gamblers in 2007. The UK Gambling Commission last year prohibited the inclusion of slot machines in advertisements by large UK gambling operators.
In its budget submission, the IBA itself provided a UK study that showed gambling problems are highest among patrons of spread betting (14.7 per cent) and slot machines (11.2 per cent).
A further budget submission by a group representing 200 smaller, independent bookmakers advised against slot machines. The Irish Independent Betting Offices Association (IBOA) said that these slot machines “will have a detrimental effect on [IBOA] members and the Irish public in general”. It said that problem gambling amongst slot machine users is 250 per cent greater than traditional forms of betting shop gambling activity. The bookmaker Paddy Power also opposed the introduction of slot machines.