City leaders back plea for government to take action against ‘highly addictive’ betting terminals

Politicians in Portsmouth have echoed national calls for restrictions on fixed odds betting machines as part of the News campaign
Politicians in Portsmouth have echoed national calls for restrictions on fixed odds betting machines as part of the News campaign
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PORTSMOUTH politicians have backed Britain’s former work and pensions secretary in demanding the government takes swift action against ‘highly addictive’ gambling machines.

Iain Duncan Smith branded the terminals a ‘tax on the poor’ and called on ministers to tackle the problem.

His plea, and the support of Portsmouth South’s Labour MP Stephen Morgan and city council leader Donna Jones, comes as The News continues its campaign against fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

Mr Duncan Smith argued the machines fuel debt, crime and family breakdown.

A report by his Centre for Social Justice think-tank concluded a £2 maximum stake was vital to protect the public.

Speaking to a national newspaper, Mr Duncan Smith said: ‘Lowering the maximum spend for each bet will slow down the rate at which money can be lost.’

Gamblers can currently wager up to £100 per game on the machines. Campaign site Stop The FOBTs said a total of £53,297,234 in cash was spent in the machines across Portsmouth, Fareham, Havant and Gosport in 2016.

The campaigners also state that from the area’s 64 betting shops, £13,324,309 was lost using 233 FOBTs.

Portsmouth City Council leader Donna Jones said: ‘The effects of high-spin gambling machines are very addictive.

‘By reducing the maximum spin amount it would be more difficult for people to lose hundreds of pounds in just a few minutes. I urge the government to review this issue as a matter of urgency.’

Joining forces with the council, The News will lobby the government to impose a £10 per spin restriction to be placed on machines.

Mr Morgan added: ‘The government must publish a review of stakes and prizes immediately and commit to reducing the terminals in our communities.’