During the debate, Gardiner had claimed that: “The Responsible Gambling Trust has said that in its view it is, ‘overtly naïve and massively premature’, to suggest that reducing the maximum stake size would help to reduce problem gambling.”
In the letter the RGT chairman Neil Goulden said: “I would like to take this opportunity to clarify that this is not the view of the Responsible Gambling Trust nor have those words appeared in any document published by us. The Responsible Gambling Trust does not have a view on the appropriate stake size for Category B2 gaming machines.”
Goulden pointed out that Dr Adrian Parke, an academic at the University of Lincoln, had voiced such a view in an interview with Betting Business Interactive magazine, but that Parke is not an employee of the Responsible Gambling Trust and does not speak on the charity’s behalf. However he was one of the authors of the seven ground-breaking research projects into gaming machines which the Responsible Gambling Trust published last December.
The letter also highlighted another inaccuracy in the debate: “In this context, it may be helpful to point out that the statement by Lord Strasburger “given that four out of five of those staking just a quarter of the proposed new maximum limit show signs of problem gambling” does not acknowledge the researcher’s important caveat that “the findings from this survey, however, should not be extrapolated to all machine players, as loyalty card customers represent only one segment of the player base”.”
Goulden concluded with a chest beating defence of the RGT’s efforts so far on this subject. “I believe we have delivered a truly ground-breaking body of work which greatly enhances our understanding of these machines and the way people use them.
“The findings of the research have been provided to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Gambling Commission to inform policy decisions they may wish to make with regard to these machines. The research is complex, there is a lot of it and it requires careful thought and consideration by all concerned. The researchers are entitled to discuss their work and to form their own opinions about appropriate policy but the Responsible Gambling Trust has not made any policy recommendations and will not be doing so.
“We are a commissioning body with a duty to remain impartial and appearing to advocate for a particular policy outcome might risk undermining our ability to complete research projects such as this in the future.”