A MEMBER of a gambling support group has spoken of the dangers of using machines in betting shops.
Fixed odds betting terminals in shops allow gamblers to place bets of up to £100 every 20 to 45 seconds, typically in roulette type games, meaning a user can lose thousands in just minutes.
Gambling companies kept £1.4bn from these machines and similar types across the country in 2011/12, an increase of 10 per cent, according to the Gambling Commission.
Betting shops are allowed to have a maximum of four machines in a shop.
Stefan Goodson, 22, of Fareham, is an ex-gambling addict and now attends Gambler’s Anonymous meetings in Portsmouth, Havant and Southampton.
He said newcomers regularly talk about their problems with the machines.
He said: ‘I don’t know what the attraction is, but it’s a compulsion – people I know love playing on them.
‘As a group we think that you shouldn’t be allowed to spend so much money in so little time – that’s what’s causing debt across the country.’
Stefan has not gambled since April but is still in thousands of pounds of debt.
It comes as the Campaign for Fairer Gambling is calling for the government to limit the maximum bet to £2 and increase the amount of time between playing, as well as remove game content.
The group have calculated an estimated £427,074,526.67 has been spent in Portsmouth, Havant, Gosport, Fareham and surrounding areas.
MP for Portsmouth South Mike Hancock said: ‘The relaxation of the rules which allow betting shops to have these machines and the availability of them – people literally walking in off the street – could lead to an enormous problem. The government should rethink the gaming laws on this issue.
‘Somebody somewhere is making a lot of money.’
n Call Stefan on 07572 501847 or visit the national website gamblersanonymous.org.uk for help.