Boris Johnson criticises betting ‘scourge’

Boris Johnson has criticised the rise of controversial Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), known as the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, the London Mayor urged Ministers to cut the maximum stake on the machines from £100 to £2.

His comments come as concern also mounts about the effect of online gambling sites, including further accounts of the damaging effects of these websites.

Dangerously addictive

Johnson said: “Fixed odds betting machines are the scourge of our High Streets and a very bad thing for our community”.

He added: “They can be dangerously addictive, their promise of whopping wins only gives false hope, and they prey on the vulnerable within our society.

“I have urged the Government to proceed with the utmost caution when considering the maximum stakes available on these machines.”

High losses

At the moment gamblers can lose up to £100 a spin while using FOBTs, which mimic casino games such as roulette.

Johnson went on to say that he advocated the approach taken by “local authorities, charities and faith and community groups to limit the stakes”.

Kelly Nield, a mother who built up £45,000 worth of debts playing online bingo, said that her addiction became so bad that she began to have suicidal thoughts and self harm.

No way out

The mother of one told the Daily Mail: “You get to the point where you can’t see a way out.”

Describing online bingo sites she continued: “They target vulnerable people and make them believe they can make money from gambling.

“I understand some people gamble and have no issues. But many people have a problem and this destroys lives, families and even drives people to suicide.”

Crippling addictiveness

The crippling addictiveness of online gambling is even more starkly revealed in the case of Jacqueline Balaam.

Balaam is facing 30 months in jail for stealing almost £300,000 during her time as a financial officer at a Cambridge college, in order to fund her addiction to online gambling.

The mother of two is said to have wagered over £6 million on a betting site during an eight year period.

Related Resources