31 March 2004
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 here.

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 being sought.

Our work on the campaign's other aims will continue.

14 January 2004
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 AVI).

10 January 2004
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.

9 January 2004
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 true?

Rev S. Campbell

2 January 2004
Lengthy feature on the campaign by Carlton TV's "Scam" programme broadcast on ITV. Video clip should be available here shortly.

29 October 2003
"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.

26 October 2003
Still waiting on a response from the Gaming Board. They must be ever so busy.

14 September 2003
Still waiting on a response from the Gaming Board.

1 September 2003
Favourable article appears in MicroMart magazine. Scans here and here.

30 August 2003
Still waiting on a response from the Gaming Board.

July 2003
Still waiting on a response from the Gaming Board to our letter of 4 July.

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 here.

20 July 2003
Discovered an excellent article 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
An excellent 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
Good 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.

Reassuringly, however, "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 alright then.

"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, reads:

'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 here.

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 thousand hits.

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 letter expresses 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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