Calls for gambling machines ban

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A fixed odds gambling machine in a betting shop.

A fixed odds gambling machine in a betting shop.

Campaigners have called for the government to ban electronic gambling machines in betting shops across Liverpool and the rest of the UK.

The Campaign for Fairer Gambling claims that fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) are the fastest way to lose money and are luring in the poorest in society. Unlike fruit machines in pubs – where there is a £2 limit on stakes – gamblers can bet up to £100 every 20 seconds with their debit cards on FOBTs.

Adrian Parkinson, a consultant for the campaign, helped introduce FOBTs to betting shops in 1999 when he was a regional manager for various national bookmakers. But he now says the machines can have a “damaging effect” on customers.

In the last year, more than £600m has been gambled in bookmakers in Liverpool alone, an amount Mr Parkinson believes is a concern for the city. He told JMU Journalism: “Because Liverpool isn’t a particularly affluent area, it’s even more frightening that this type of money can be spent in the area.”

The former betting industry insider is urging Liverpool City Council to take action against the machines that have been referred to as the “crack cocaine of gambling”.

He said: “What we want is for councillors to vote to ban these machines, because, especially with a prominent council like Liverpool, it can really send a message. We can stop these machines taking over the high streets.”

The campaign consultant added: “Liverpool has taken that on board by trying to tackle these machines.”

Another problem that is facing the city council is the amount of applications  it is receiving, requesting planning permission for new betting shops.

Parkinson said: “We met with councillors in the city and they said they are regularly inundated with applications for new betting shops and because of the laws in place, they are powerless to stop those plans.”

He added: “They can appeal against them but it will cost them tens of thousands of pounds in court.”

Video report by Loren Mitchell, JMU Journalism TV

About Jack Birch, JMU Journalism