Manchester City Council has joined a growing chorus of councils across the country in backing Newham Council’s proposal to restrict fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs), the addictive roulette machines in betting shops that have been dubbed the “crack cocaine of gambling”.
FOBTs can take bets of up to £100 every 20 seconds and have been linked to gambling addiction, violence in betting shops, abuse to staff and money laundering. Bookmakers are allowed just four of these highly lucrative machines in each premises, which has led to clusters of betting shops appearing on our high streets.
Newham Council has now said that enough is enough and is calling on the Government to reduce the maximum stake to £2 per spin, which would bring FOBTs into line with all other easily accessible gambling machines. Their proposal, under the Sustainable Communities Act, has more chance of succeeding if they galvanise support from local authorities across the country.
Manchester City Council is the latest in a mounting number of councils to add their name to the list of supporters.
Councillor Kevin Peel said:
“We’ve long been fighting here in Manchester to stop the spread of betting shops and fixed odds betting terminals, but the powers we have give us very little room to seriously challenge the industry.
“I’m pleased that we’re now joining other councils to pressure the government into reducing the stakes on these addictive casino gaming machines which will reduce the desire of betting shops to open multiple premises in deprived areas in order to maximise their profits from the machines.”
Adrian Parkinson from The Campaign for Fairer Gambling, which has been campaigning for a reduction in the maximum stake to £2 per spin, said:
“We are very encouraged to see councils taking action against FOBTs. The current system leaves them powerless to stop the spread of these addictive machines, which are causing social and economic problems in some of our most deprived areas. We are optimistic about Newham’s proposal under the Sustainable Communities Act, but the message to government is already very clear.”
Newham is planning to submit its proposal in November, with the Government obliged to respond within six months. If the Government does not agree with the proposal, then negotiations will take place for a further six months, during which time the Government has to try to reach an agreement.