Plymouth gamblers pump £86.5million into casino-style gambling machines in a year
Plymouth gamblers pumped £86.5million into betting machines dubbed 'as addictive as crack cocaine' last year, according to new figures.
The data relates to Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals where gamblers can bet up to £100 every 20 seconds on casino-style games such as roulette.
The figures are from research drawn up by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, which believes the machines are fueling gambling problems and creating problem gamblers.
It wants much tighter regulation of the machines, which are found in licensed bookmakers.
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And the figures come despite high levels of poverty and deprivation in the city.
One in five children in Plymouth live in poverty according to a deprivation map published by the Campaign to End Child Poverty.
And according to the NHS more than 70,000 people in Plymouth live in the country’s most deprived conditions - with one community in St Peter's and the Waterfront counted among the 1% of the most deprived areas in the entire country.
The Campaign for Fairer Gambling data shows that in Plymouth Moorview there are 15 FOBT machines in four betting shops and in Sutton and Devonport there are 44 machines in 12 shops.
In Moorview gamblers spent £21,624,027 and in Sutton and Devonport the figure was £64,872,080.
On top of the figures for Plymouth - there is one licensed bookmakers with four machines in South West Devon where £5,406,007 was spent last year; there are five shops in South East Cornwall with 18 machines and £27,030,033 was spent last year; there are four shops in Torridge and West Devon with 15 machines and £21,624,027 was spent last year.
Adrian Parkinson, Campaign for Fairer Gambling Consultant said:“Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) are touch-screen roulette and casino gaming machines in betting shops, on which it is possible to stake up to £100 every 20 seconds. The high stakes and speed of play have led to the machines being called “the crack cocaine of gambling”, and the Gambling Act 2005 limits each betting shop to four FOBTs – so bookies leapfrog regulations by opening up as many shops as possible, which is why we get clustering, especially in poorer areas as our research has shown. In 2007, a Scoping Study into the Gambling Act recommended FOBTs be “closely monitored” because of international research that suggested they had features that could create more problem gamblers. However, no such monitoring has taken place, and the government is due to respond to a Select Committee report next week calling for the cap of four FOBTs per shop to be lifted as an “anti-clustering measure”.
“We believe the only way to stop machine-driven proliferation of betting shops is to make the machines less profitable. So we recommend reducing to maximum stake from £100 down to £2, increasing the time between plays, and removing table game content – all of these recommendations would bring B2 machines in line with other Category B machines.”
A spokesman for the Association of British Bookmakers told the Daily Mail: "The industry employs 45,000 people and supports a further 60,000 jobs in the economy.
"Our members pay £1 billion in taxes, far more than any other comparable retail businesses."