Curb addictive gambling machines, say councils

Fast-paced betting machines, which have been called the “crack cocaine” of gambling, should be restricted, according to scores of local councils.

The Independent newspaper reports that 80 councils will call on the Government to reduce the maximum stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) from £100 to £2.

A Manchester councillor said he hoped the move would dissuade bookmakers from having many betting shops in deprived areas.


The campaign is being led by Newham Council, which earlier this year was reported as having nearly 90 betting shops in its area.

According to The Independent, councils are set to use the Sustainable Communities Act to challenge the Government, and will highlight links between FOBTs and violence.

Manchester City Councillor Kevin Peel said: “I’m pleased that we’re now joining other councils to pressure the government into reducing the stakes on these addictive casino gaming machines which will reduce the desire of betting shops to open multiple premises in deprived areas in order to maximise their profits from the machines.”

Social harm

Lobby group The Campaign for Fairer Gambling said the FOBTs are causing “real social harm”.

Adrian Parkinson, from the group, said: “There are more than twice as many betting shops in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived”.

The Government said the actions it is taking, alongside a new code for gambling, “are sufficient to improve player protection”.

Month’s salary

FOBTs allow punters to stake money on virtual versions of casino games like blackjack, and last year sparked an attack in a betting shop.

Mark Rutter was given a life-long restriction order for the attack, which included stabbing a member of staff with a pair of scissors, smashing a security screen and toppling a gambling machine.

Later in 2013 a heavy user of the machines said at his worst he had “probably lost a month’s salary in a couple of hours” on FOBTs.

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