BRITAIN’S former work and pensions secretary is demanding the government takes swift action against ‘highly addictive’ gambling machines.
Iain Duncan Smith last night branded the terminals a ‘tax on the poor’ and called on ministers to tackle the problem.
His plea comes as The News continues its campaign against fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
Mr Duncan Smith argued the machines, which have been compared to using crack cocaine, fuel debt, crime and family breakdown.
His comments came as a report by his Centre for Social Justice think-tank concluded that a £2 maximum stake was vital to protect the public.
Mr Duncan Smith urged ministers to combat the ‘vicious spiral of poverty’ linked to the machines.
Speaking to a national newspaper last night, he said: ‘It is essential the Government acts now to curb the damaging impact of fixed betting terminals.
‘These machines constitute a tax on the poor. Lowering the maximum spend for each bet will slow down the rate at which money can be lost.
‘High stakes gambling leads to problem debt, crime and family breakdown. It is detrimental to mental and physical health and employment prospects. The families of gamblers inevitably pay a high price as these terminals feed an addiction every bit as pernicious as drugs addiction.
‘We must reduce the number of people falling into this vicious spiral of poverty.’
Joining forces with Portsmouth City Council, we will lobby the government to impose a £10 per spin restriction to be placed on machines, as part of a campaign to tackle ongoing problems in the city.
At the moment gamblers can wager up to £100 per game on the machines. The Against The Odds campaign comes as a long-awaited government review into FOBTs (otherwise known as B2 machines) is due to take place this autumn. UK gamblers lost a record £13.8bn in the year up to September 2016 according to the Gambling Commission and 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 on the area’s 233 FOBTs.
The effort has since been backed by MPs from across the area.