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Fareham council's bid to ban high stakes gambling machines in betting shops
A HAMPSHIRE council is pressing ahead with banning high-stakes roulette machines in high street betting shops.
Councillors in Fareham have backed a motion to stamp out what has been dubbed the “crack cocaine of gambling”.
They are following in the footsteps of several councils around the UK including Liverpool in demanding action to curb what has been described as a highly addictive form of gambling.
Across Fareham borough there are about 14 betting shops that last year saw £81m gambled on 51 of the machines, also known as fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs), with players losing more than £2.5m.
Campaigners claim that because betting shops are limited to four FOBTs per shop, bookmakers are now opening multiple shops on high streets to maximise the number of machines and revenue they make from them.
The Campaign for Fairer Gambling has backed the borough council’s call for restrictions.
Spokesman Matt Zarb-Cousin said the machines now account for over half of bookmakers’ profits.
He said: “Fareham has decided that the high street is not the place for hard gambling, especially when these machines are so open to abuse from money launderers.”
Fareham Borough Council leader Councillor 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.”
The betting industry has acknowledged that fixed odds betting terminals have caused problems for some gamblers but argues that people would gamble in other ways if they were forced to remove the machines.
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