I am writing to you regarding an article featured in The Lancashire Telegraph (Feb 19) ‘MP accuses bookmakers ‘of avoiding research’’.

The article refers to gaming machines as the “crack cocaine of gambling” and as such infers an apparent addictive nature, which is a disingenuous suggestion not borne out by facts. Incidents of problem gambling, as recorded by the Gambling Commission’s Prevalence Study, has remained relatively static in recent years despite the availability of more products, and is still significantly lower than many comparable countries such as Iceland, USA, South Africa and Hong Kong.

The most recent study, published in 2011, also noted that there was no evidence of a causal link between problem gambling and gaming machines.

Recently the Health Survey’s figures showed that problem gambling has actually now dropped to 0.5% in England. It is clear from the Prevalence Study and other research that has taken place, that people who suffer from addictions use a wide variety of products, suggesting the need for an individual rather than a product-related response.

Such studies, which all operators support and work closely in the process of, illustrates bookmakers’ commitment to research, as does their £6m annual contribution to the Responsible Gambling Trust.

Indeed, far from being reluctant to embrace further research, the industry is in the process of launching a new code for responsible gambling and player protection, which will be rolled out across most operators in the UK from March. This contains measures such as enabling customers to set their own limits on time and money spent, mandatory pop-ups at particular time or money spend levels, greater breaks-in-play and increased responsible gambling messaging.

There is also no mention of the fact that customers can also win on such games, and it should be noted that the average return on roulette games is 97.3%.

Gaming machines, whilst consistently referred to in the short article as necessarily negative, are a legitimate, regulated and popular product which are an integral part of an operator’s offer to consumers.

Dirk Vennix, Chief Executive, Association of British Bookmakers