Mil­lions lost to ma­chines in one year

MSP wants UK Govern­ment to act

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Edel Ke­nealy

Peo­ple across South La­nark­shire lost £13mil­lion in bet­ting ma­chines known as the ‘crack co­caine of gam­bling’ in just one year.

Fig­ures, re­leased by the Cam­paign for Fairer Gam­bling, show the cash was spent at fixed odds bet­ting ter­mi­nals in the county in the 2015/16 fi­nan­cial year.

Since 2008 more than £88m has been lost to the ma­chines, dubbed the crack co­caine of gam­bling be­cause they have proved hugely ad­dic­tive.

Clare Haughey, MSP for Ruther­glen, said the fig­ures re­flected a “huge prob­lem” in the lo­cal com­mu­nity and called on the UK Govern­ment to tackle the is­sue head on.

She said: “These are in­cred­i­bly con­cern­ing fig­ures and show that the Tory govern­ment can­not con­tinue to ig­nore this is­sue that is hav­ing such a neg­a­tive im­pact on our com­mu­ni­ties.

“Peo­ple across South La­nark­shire have lost out to the tune of £88m since 2008 and £13m in 2015/16 alone. This is a huge prob­lem – and the UK Govern­ment needs to get se­ri­ous about tack­ling it. “FOBTs are so ad­dic­tive they’re known as the ‘crack co­caine of gam­bling’ and it is no won­der given how much peo­ple have lost out from us­ing these toxic ma­chines. “The UK Govern­ment must take ac­tion to stop peo­ple los­ing out even more – by re­duc­ing the num­ber of ma­chines al­lowed in book­mak­ers, lim­it­ing the stakes that can be bet, and re­duc­ing the amount of time that can be spent on the ma­chines. “The Tories have dug their heels in on this is­sue for long enough – it is time for them to take ac­tion to help peo­ple across South La­nark­shire.”

Reverend Neil Glover, of Flem­ing­ton Hall­side Church, said more needed to be done to ad­dress this grow­ing prob­lem.

“These fig­ures are clearly shock­ing,” he said.

“The fact that there is so much money lost to these ma­chines would sug­gest this is a hid­den prob­lem that peo­ple are not able to talk about.

“It seems to me that we are able to talk about ad­dic­tion to al­co­hol and to drugs but we find it very hard to talk about ad­dic­tion to gam­bling, whether that’s at fixed odds bet­ting ter­mi­nals or on­line gam­bling at home, and I fully sup­port our MSP in her ef­forts to draw at­ten­tion to this and ad­dress this prob­lem.”

The UK Govern­ment’s depart­ment for dig­i­tal, cul­ture, me­dia and sport was asked to com­ment but failed to re­spond as the Re­former went to press.

Ad­dic­tiveFixed odds bet­ting ter­mi­nals are de­scribed as the crack co­caine of gam­bling

Con­cernClare Haughey MSP says the fig­ures are shame­ful

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