The “disturbing” trend of people in deprived areas being sucked into using addictive gambling machines has been revealed.
Statistics show that in Liverpool Riverside, which has the fourth highest rate of child poverty in the country, people gambled £197 million last year on high stakes betting machines.
And in Rochdale, where on one estate 72 per cent of people are unemployed, people gambled £72 million last year on the machines.
Gambling laws were watered down in 2005, and The Christian Institute warned that the poor are “disproportionately most affected” by gambling.
The law change meant betting shops were formally allowed to have ‘fixed odds betting terminals’ (FOBTs) – dubbed the “crack cocaine” of gambling.
These high stake gaming machines allow gamblers to stake £100 a spin and up to £18,000 an hour.
Now statistics from the Campaign for Fairer Gambling have shown the extent of the problem.
In the Liverpool Riverside area, there are 189 FOBTs in 52 betting shops, while in Rochdale some 69 machines exist in 19 shops across the town.
Louise Ellman, the Labour MP for the Liverpool area, said: “It’s a sad fact that poorer people use these machines more than others. It’s a very disturbing and worrying trend.”
And Rochdale Councillor Linda Robinson commented: “You find that every programme on TV is asking you to ring this number for a chance to win something.
“That is where it starts and people get hooked on gambling. I am against there being too many of these machines in one area but you have to be able to give people the choice.
“But some of these people who are making the choice to gamble on these machines cannot afford it.”
A spokesman for the Association of British Bookmakers said: “According to independent planning reports they add to the vibrancy and vitality of the UK’s high streets.”