Gamblers in Central Beds splash out almost £6 million on fixed odds betting machines in just one year
PUBLISHED: 14:48 19 October 2017 | UPDATED: 15:26 19 October 2017
Figures released ahead of an autumn Government review into fixed odds betting terminals show that gamblers in Central Beds are staking nearly £6 million a year on machines - dubbed the 'crack cocaine of gambling'.
The terminals, featuring touchscreen casino-style games with a £100 maximum stake every 20 seconds, were rolled out across the country in 2001.
They have been slammed by charities for being highly addictive and this has prompted an autumn review into the legislation governing their use.
The Campaign for Fairer Gambling – which released the figures – wants the maximum stake on FOBTs reduced to a £2 spin to bring them in line with all other gaming machines in the UK.
In Central Beds there are six betting shops, with 22 FOBTs in total.
According to the campaign group, cash inserted into the machines in Central Beds in 2016 totalled £5,736,964, while the amount gambled was £30,841,918, and amount lost was £1,147,393. The cumulative amount lost from 2008 to 2016 stands at £7,773,426.
North East Beds MP Alistair Burt who is working on the issue in parliament, said: “The Government wants to see a responsible gambling industry which protects players. “It has already put in place a number of measures around FOBTs. For example, in 2015 action was taken to introduce a new requirement that those accessing stakes over £50 on these gaming machines must load cash via staff interaction or use account-based play.
“But, we recognise further action is necessary to strike the right balance.
“The review into gaming machines and social responsibility has been looking closely at FOBTs and specific concerns about the harm they cause, be that to the players themselves or the local communities in which they are located, and the Government is now reviewing the evidence to see what steps can now be taken.
“The Fixed Odds Betting Terminals All Party Parliamentary Group also held an inquiry and its findings will be taken into consideration as part of the review.
“I have to say I have never been keen on these machines – I have had constituency cases of people affected by their usage, and I want to see the results of this review being used to make some sensible decisions that will protect constituents and especially those vulnerable to gambling addiction.”
The Government review is expected in late October.