Hopes rise that it’s game over for addictive high-stakes betting machines

The News is campaigning for a change in the law on fixed odds betting terminals
The News is campaigning for a change in the law on fixed odds betting terminals
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PORTSMOUTH councillors have welcomed news that the government looks likely to crack down on fixed odds betting terminals.

The News launched the Against the Odds campaign to highlight the damage that the machines can do.

Along with Portsmouth City Council we are calling on the government to make sure that a long-awaited review is carried out, and also to ensure that the maximum amount that can be wagered is reduced.

Now, in a letter to the Bishop of St Albans, chancellor Phillip Hammond has signalled that the end of high stakes on FOBTs could be on the horizon.

Figures presented to the Church of England’s General Synod this year revealed that betting company Ladbrokes saw profits from FOBTs increase by 11.9 per cent last year, making up 55 per cent of their total profits.

Many gambling addiction charities want the stakes on touch-screen roulette machines to be reduced to £2 per spin, to prevent gamblers from losing hundreds of pounds a session.

Statistics from GamCare show that in 2015-16, 28 per cent of all gambling addictions in the UK stemmed from in-store betting machines.

Cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport Councillor Linda Symes said: ‘The rumour of it being reduced to £2 a spin is great news. The current amount available is just way too high – it’s ridiculous.

‘To me, it is frightening to think that people can bet such huge amounts of money, so a limit of £2 per spin would be a fantastic idea.

‘Whatever the agreed amount ends up being, a limit certainly needs to be introduced as quickly as possible.’

Conservative councillor Lee Mason is the chairman of the city council’s licensing board at Portsmouth City Council.

He said: ‘Gambling can cause such hardship and misery for people and their families. We need control over the market in order to protect people with an addiction.

‘For those who say that gambling is about having fun, I would say that you can still have fun with the lower stakes.

‘We cannot have people in Portsmouth losing their hard-earned money like this – something has to be done about it.

‘If the review came out and the agreed limit was £2 per spin, I would be very pleased indeed.’