‘Crack cocaine’ of gambling damaging vulnerable, MPs say

Vulnerable people are being hit by the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling, more than eight in ten MPs have said in a new poll.

Members of the House of Commons also called for greater Government regulation on the issue, and said the current £100-a-spin limit is too high.

Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) mimic casino games such as roulette and are often dubbed the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling because of their addictive nature.


In the survey of 150 MPs for the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, 81 per cent say that FOBTs are having a negative effect on vulnerable groups within the UK.

Over two-thirds say the £100 stake is too high, with just 24 per cent saying it is “About right”.

Almost 70 per cent of the respondents to the ComRes survey said FOBTs are having a negative effect on local communities.

‘Socially destructive’

Christian charity CARE described the gambling machines as “socially destructive and a genuine social menace”, and said the poll showed a “real appetite for action on FOBTs”.

It was released as candidates for London Mayor spoke out on the issue. Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative candidate, said: “No local authority wants to see their high street dominated by betting shops, by payday lenders, by premises they don’t believe enhance their local community.”

Labour’s Sadiq Khan commented: “You don’t see these betting shops in the more affluent areas of London and there’s a reason why.”

Gambling addiction

And Caroline Pidgeon, representing the Liberal Democrats, said that her Party had sought to make it harder for betting shops to open while in coalition Government.

In February, an in-depth investigation by The Times revealed that gambling addiction in the UK is such a serious problem that the NHS has started prescribing drugs to the worst addicts.

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