A COUNCIL leader has backed a News campaign to restrict fixed-odds betting terminals, labelling them ‘the crack cocaine’ of gambling.
Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council, has given his backing to the Against The Odds campaign and called for even tougher restrictions on FOBTs (otherwise known as B2 machines).
These machines are the crack-cocaine of gambling. You really have to see it with your own eyes to understand how addictive they are. People pump hundreds and hundreds of money into them even though they are not going to win.Councillor Sean Woodward
The Conservative council leader has pushed for tighter restrictions on the machines in recent years and the borough council is aligned with a number of other councils calling to slash the maximum stake allowed.
Cllr Woodward said: ‘These machines are the crack cocaine of gambling. You have to see it with your own eyes to understand how addictive they are. People pump hundreds and hundreds of money into them even though they are not going to win.
‘The reasons that these machines are in shops is because they bring in the most money.’
The News launched its campaign last month following calls from Portsmouth City Council to lobby the government to impose a £10 per spin restriction to be placed on machines.
However, Cllr Woodward believes £10 is too high per stake and says £1 would be the right figure to push for.
He added: ‘At the moment, £100 is just far too much. I would like to see it at £1.
‘At that figure, people can gamble at a very low stake and it would not have as much of an impact as if it were at £10 or £100 that these people were gambling.’
‘I would like to see action taken by the government on this issue.’
Fareham is home to the lowest number of betting shops and FOBTs in the area with a total of 11 of the machines found in its three betting shops.
The amount of cash inserted in the betting machines at these locations totalled £3,918,914.
The total amount gambled in 2016 was £21,069,431.
Portsmouth was highest for the south Hampshire area with a total of £30,567,531 in cash inserted into the city’s 142 FOBTs across its 39 betting shops.
Cllr Woodward has been opposed to forms of betting since first becoming a councillor in 1986.
As a member of the amusement arcade action group in Fareham, he was able to restrict the number of amusement with prizes (AWP) slot machines across the borough.
The aim of the Against The Odds campaign is to highlight the dangers of FOBTs, with the government to review the machines later this year.