COMMENT: Time to end the scourge of fixed odds terminals

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They ruin lives, tear families apart and leave those battling with addiction in despair.

Experts, and those in the grip of the obsession with spins, claim fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) are as addictive as crack.

And after the release of figures which show the staggering amount of money spent on FOBTs in this area – £53,297,234 – Portsmouth City Council is finally trying to tackle the problem.

Councillors have agreed to call on the government to remove the terminals from betting shops, or bring in a £10 limit on what people can feed into the machines.

That’s ahead of a vital government review in the autumn.

At the moment the limit is £100 – that’s a week’s food shopping for a family, poured into betting machines, gone in a flash.

But many say the £10 limit doesn’t go far enough.

The News is calling on Portsmouth City Council to do everything within its power to stop this epidemic sweeping the city.

These high stakes, high speed betting machines are the scourge of our high streets, bringing misery to those who are quickly drawn into the downward spiral of addiction by them.

The Association of British Bookmakers says the council would lose out on £350,000 of business rates if betting shops were forced to close by gaming machines being banned.

But surely the social cost of gambling addiction and the pressure on the NHS, court system and welfare is many millions higher?

Over the coming months The News will be signposting people to gambling support services and urging our MPs to support the £10 cap. We must act before even more people end up in the grip of FOBT addiction.