The Government should act to clamp down on high-stake betting machines dubbed the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling, three local authorities say.
Fareham Council, Brighton and Hove City Council and Preston Council all voted last week to call on the Government to take action on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) which allow gamblers to bet up to £100 every 20 seconds.
Both Fareham and Preston Council are urging the Government to reduce the stakes on FOBTs to £2, a restriction campaigners say should have been brought in through recent amendments to gambling machine laws.
Leader of Fareham Council Sean Woodward said: “I acted many years ago to remove the scourge of slot machines from Fareham’s chip shops, takeaways and other premises where children could use them unsupervised.”
“Now we have the march into betting shops of the FOBTs where up to £100 can be bet every 20 seconds. They are the crack cocaine of gambling. I very much hope our government will act to bring down the stake to £2 per go”, he added.
Brighton Council also unanimously voted to call on the Government to take action on FOBTs.
“I am really concerned about the impact FOBTs are having in Brighton and Hove, risking vulnerable people getting into debt with crime and anti-social behaviour escalating in the city as a result of these machines,” Brighton Council’s Labour councillor, Emma Daniel, said.
Derek Webb, of ‘Stop the FOBTs’ campaign said: “Local communities and their councillors are far better placed to assess the damage FOBTs are causing than gambling regulators and highly paid civil servants in Whitehall.”
“It is time the Government listened to local authorities”.
Gambling addict Roger Radler spoke out against high-stake gambling machines in September, saying he wasted vast amounts of money on them.
“You can get your high every 15 seconds”, he said.
“At my worst, I probably lost a month’s salary in a couple of hours and that’s horrendous”, he added.
Earlier this month, MPs backed changes to increase stakes and prizes for slot machines – but the amendments did not lower the maximum stakes for FOBTs from £100.