Council calls for lower limit on the ‘crack cocaine’ of betting

Fareham council wants a cap on stakes on betting shop roulette machines
Fareham council wants a cap on stakes on betting shop roulette machines

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A COUNCIL wants to limit stakes to £2 per 20 seconds on machines described as the ‘crack-cocaine’ of gambling.

Fareham Borough Council has voted to push for betting shop roulette machines to be capped, after figures revealed £46bn was gambled on these machines across the country last year.

These fixed odds betting terminals have been dubbed ‘the crack-cocaine of the gambling world’, as it is easy to spend large amounts in seconds. Unlike fruit machines where stakes are limited to £2, gamblers can bet with cash or debit card up to £100 every 20 seconds.

Tory council leader Cllr Sean Woodward proposed the motion at the recent full council meeting.

The motion was backed by all but one councilllor.

Independent Cllr Jack Englefield accused the council of becoming a ‘nanny state’ and imposing restrictions on residents’ free will.

He said: ‘Most of those people are playing with their own money that they have lawfully earned and they are doing what they want with their own money.’

He argued the 14 betting shops in the borough would suffer as a result, leading to potential job losses.

Many councillors came to the leader’s defence, including cllr Michael Ford, who is also a magistrate.

He said: ‘A large percentage of the crimes that come before us in court are due to the effects of alcohol, gambling and drug addiction. It is a sensible motion.’

Cllr Woodward said: ‘I’m not seeking to make a judgement. I’ve not been into a betting shop, nor have I been into a brothel or drug den, but I’m still entitled to a view.

‘A maximum stake of £2 is enough. £100 every 20 seconds is an awful lot of money and I can see how people get a high from it.

‘It is not for me to say they cannot do it, but perhaps they can do it slower and as they lose £2 after £2 they might think better of it.’

The motion comes a week after Labour forced a vote on the issue at the House of Commons to limit the stake, which the goverment refused.

The council will now write to the government, calling on it to revisit this decision.