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Gambling expose reporter wins Young Journalist prize

An investigation into the growth of fixed-odds betting machines won a Brighton Argus reporter this year’s Young Journalist of the Year prize.

Ben Leo won the HTFP-sponsored award after highlighting an issue which has since been taken up in every national newspaper and in Parliament.

In what the judges described as an “astounding” exclusive, he discovered that Sussex punters were spending £1bn a year on the machines, generating a powerful front page splash.

Ben also looked into how an energy company actively encouraged its sales staff to sign customers onto the most expensive tariffs in exchange for higher rates of commission, prompting the company in question to change its sales incentives structure.

Ben received the prize from Paul Linford, publisher of HoldtheFrontPage, which has now sponsored the award for the past four years.

Paul, who also chaired the judging panel in the category, said all the judges were agreed that Ben was the outstanding candidate in the category.

Presenter Nick Ferrari told the ceremony:  “The winning entry was described by the judges as an astounding exclusive showing how punters in Sussex had wagered £1 billion on fixed odds betting machines in just 12 months.

“A year later it continues to be a hot topic in almost every paper and in parliament.”

Ben won the award ahead of Katy Hallam, of the Birmingham Mail and Anthony Joseph of the Aberdeen Evening Express, both of whom were highly commended.

Also nominated were Martin Flynn, of the Dundee Evening Telegraph, Katie Davies of the Newcastle Chronicle, and Samantha Harman of the Dorset Echo.

The award was open to journalists aged 26 or under on 31 December 2013 who had not previously been shortlisted for this award.

Ben is pictured below receiving his award from Paul.


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  • May 19, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Well done Ben, get filling out the job application forms, time to move onwards and upwards….

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  • May 20, 2014 at 11:11 am

    That £1bn number is a bit misleading, it’s the amount of stakes, and includes every time money is put in the machines. If you start with £10, and put your wins back into the machine until your money is gone, you might have put up stakes of £50 or so, even though you only lost £10.

    The machines have a 97 percent win rate on many games, so that £1bn translates into £30m gross win. Still a big number, but hardly the same.

    I don’t see how this is an “astounding exclusive,” since it is based on data from the Campaign for Fairer Gambling group, and they have since backed off using these numbers because of complaints they were misleading.

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