A major breakthrough for the campaign. After much delay, the
Gaming Board contacted FairPlay today to say that in the future (exact
date as yet unspecified), fruit machines where the possibility of a no-win
"gamble" exists will carry a warning notice on the cabinet alerting
players to the fact. While FairPlay would have preferred such "gambles"
simply to be outlawed, the inclusion of a warning notice represents a
significant step forward. The full text of the letter can be found
The letter's second-last
paragraph is also very interesting - if machines are to have their
gamble-distorting abilities restricted, that's going to mean a significant
change for the better in the way machines actually play, another of
FairPlay's core aims. More details on these developments (such as the
nature of the warning and the schedule for implementation) are currently
Our work on the campaign's
other aims will continue.
Added clip from "Scam" (see 2 January). Right click on
this link and select "Save As" to download
and view it in low quality (3.6MB, AVI format), or
here for the higher-quality version (30MB
Added recordings from BBC Radio Scotland's Breakfast Show. The
show is a quite light-hearted one in "zoo" format with several comedians
on the studio panel (and is normally presented by comic Fred McAuley), but
a few serious points were made. Hear the introduction
here, and the main nine-minute interview here.
Sent the following to the Gaming Board's Cliff Young following the
lack of further reply since October 29:
Cliff, I don't wish to
appear impatient, but that's another three months under the bridge. Exactly how long does it take to say to BACTA:
"Do your member's machines behave in this way - that is, unwinnable
'gambles' and enriched games contrary to the Gaming Board guidelines - or
not? And if they do, what are you going to do about it?"
and get a reply? Because it's been eight months so far, and we don't even
appear to know whether they admit or deny the basic allegations. They
certainly haven't denied them in public.
Can you tell me what's causing such a huge delay in answering such a
simple question, and whether there is any expected date, exact or
approximate, for the resolution of the matter? What precisely is it that
the Gaming Board is doing on the public's behalf to attempt to resolve the
situation, which you would presumably regard as a serious one if it's
Rev S. Campbell
Lengthy feature on the campaign by Carlton TV's "Scam" programme broadcast on ITV.
Video clip should be available here shortly.
"I know that it has taken some time but I will reply as soon as I have
something substantive to tell you",
writes Cliff Young of the Gaming
Board in response to our gentle reminder.
Still waiting on a response from the Gaming Board. They must be
ever so busy.
Still waiting on a response from the Gaming Board.
Favourable article appears in MicroMart magazine. Scans
here and here.
Still waiting on a response from the Gaming Board.
30 July 2003
Still waiting on a response from the Gaming Board to our letter of
29 July 2003
A mere two months or so after this campaign's allegations came to
light, the UK fruit machine industry has finally managed to compose some
form of approximation at a response. Two articles, one "news" story and
one editorial comment, have appeared in trade newspaper CoinSlot. The text
of the articles, and an analysis of their contents, can be found
20 July 2003
Discovered an excellent
on fruit-machine addiction in adolescents, written by well-known gaming
psychologist Mark Griffiths PhD of Nottingham Trent University. It's a
powerful indication of why children need to be protected from these
cheating gambling machines at a very vulnerable time in life.
14 July 2003
article on the campaign in The Independent.
Scan is here. Our favourite bit is
"Leslie McLeod-Miller, Bacta's lawyer, turned down repeated invitations to
comment on Fairplay's allegations. Instead he cited a Bacta statement.
That says: "We have seen the comments made by Fairplay Campaign, many
of which we think are very misleading." He declined to specify which
comments were misleading, or how."
7 July 2003
piece on BBC News Online, which prompted a series of calls from
various regional BBC stations followed by live on-air interviews.
3 July 2003
An interesting response is received from the
Gaming Board, the supposedly
regulatory body for fruit machines in the UK. In it, they say that the
machine behaviour alleged by this site would be "undesirable" if
true, but that they suspect the emulation is not accurately reproducing
real machine behaviour. (We weren't aware the Gaming Board was home to
emulation experts...) We have alerted them to further
evidence, and await their reply.
More tellingly, though, the
Board also state that "the Gaming Board has no power to require the
manufacturers of gaming machines to submit their software for test."
In other words, even if it could be proved that the emulators were
accurate, as we believe they are, the Board would have no power to examine
the original source code to confirm it.
"we are pursuing the matter further with BACTA, the trade association for
the gaming machine industry, to seek assurance that our understanding
[about emulators not being accurate] is correct." Oh well, that's
"Excuse me, suspected
murderer. I have absolutely no powers to come and search your house or
back garden for dead bodies. So, please voluntarily tell me whether you've
killed anyone or not."
This campaign has revealed
the truly staggering lack of control which the UK government exerts over
this particular form of gambling. Despite it being the only form of
gambling which children are allowed to participate in, there are no laws
laid down about it, and no supervisory body with the powers to enforce
them even if there were.
(The Gaming Board, beyond what's mentioned above,
has NO jurisdiction of ANY sort on fruit machines located in pubs,
amusement arcades, takeaway restaurants etc. Its pathetically meagre
powers extend only to licenced members' clubs and bingo halls.)
This state of affairs cannot
be allowed to continue.
17 June 2003
The industry finally offers a
reply to the FairPlay allegations. Just two lines long, and containing no
actual denial of any of the things claimed by this site, it is a telling
response. The entire text, credited to BACTA Chief Executive Phil Jarrold,
'We have seen the
comments made by "Fairplay Campaign", many of which we think are very
misleading. All machines manufactured and operated by BACTA members
conform to the strict guidelines and compliance procedures, as agreed with
the Gaming Board for Great Britain.'
An arcade operator also
acknowledges, and attempts a public defence of, fruit-machine cheating.
Read more here.
9 June 2003
More coverage from the Scottish press, this
time in the country's best-selling tabloid the Daily Record. It's a
dreadful piece of journalism - misquoting the campaign, presenting our
aims as the exact opposite of what they actually are (we do NOT want
US-style random machines), and completely missing the core point of the
campaign (illegal cheating gambles) - but on the upside, nice graphic.
8 June 2003
Devastating new evidence is uncovered
which destroys any remaining doubt about the cheating nature of Hi-Lo
gambles, or any suspicion that the emulated behaviour is merely a result
of suspect pseudo-random number generation.
Campaign makes the front page of Scotland On Sunday, the
biggest-selling broadsheet newspaper north of the border, with half a page
also devoted to the story inside. The cover image ("puggie" is Scottish
for "fruit machine") can be seen here, a scan of
the article here, and the story can be read online
The campaign also featured
on today's Slashdot, causing a
flood of interest which the site server is coping well with, but which
appears to have broken the counter after registering the first few
A reader claiming to be a
lawyer (name supplied to us, but not for publication) sent us the
text of the section of the Gaming Act which
specifically outlaws cheating.
4 June 2003
Scanned in the relevant passages of the 1968 Gaming Act, which can be
downloaded for viewing here (2.15MB,
saved as 6 x JPG image files) or here (PDF
version, right-click and "Save As" to save). Analysis to follow.
4 June 2003
Response received from one of FairPlay's own UK MPs. The
concern but is unable to clarify the law, and MP informs us he has passed
the matter on to Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Trade and
Industry, and will inform us when an answer is forthcoming.
1st June 2003
In addition to the UK
Government, FairPlay activists in the Isle Of Man have also presented the
information on this site to the island's administration. The IoM Gaming
Commission have responded that they will raise the
matter at their next meeting, to be held on June 19.
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