CASIN

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Cam­paign­ers say they have led to un­toldld mis­ery for pun­ters who have been plunged into debt and seen their lives fall apart.

Cus­tomers have lost £11bil­lion on FOBTs since 2008. The ma­chines let you stake up to £100 ev­ery 20 sec­onds on bets de­signed to look like fun casino games such as roulette. The Sun­day Peo­ple has led the way in cam­paign­ing for the max­i­mum stake to be cut to £2.

Some re­search shows the ma­chines have caused the gov­ern­ment to money, rather than rak­ing in prof­its for the Trea­sury.

But the most alarm­ing find­ings show that FOBTs are clus­tered in some of the worst-off ar­eas across the land.

A spokesman for the Cam­paign for Fairer Gam­bling said: “Book­ies pro­lif­er­ate in our most de­prived ar­eas. The Gov­ern­ment must re­duce the max­i­mum stake to £2 a spin.

“This would elim­i­nate the ad­dic­tive roulette and casino con­tent, which in far too many cases leads to harm and ad­dic­tion.”

The lat­est fig­ures, for 2016, show a dra­matic dif­fer­ence between the num­ber r of ma­chines in de­prived and af­flu­ent nt ar­eas. Top are the Cities of London and West­min­ster. Here gam­blers lost £31mil­lion in 120 bet­ting shops, an aver­age £250,000 in each shop.

Other London bor­oughs dom­i­nate the top ten.

Out­side the cap­i­tal the biggestst spend was in Liver­pool River­sid­ede – £8.1mil­lion in 53 shops

In Manch­ester Cen­tral, pun­ters spent £7.2mil­lion in 50 shops. Other hotspots were Birm­ing­ham Lady­wood, with £7mil­lion in 38 shops, and Leeds Cen­tral – £6.3mil­lion in 40.

Slough, Berk­shire, is another prob­lem area with £5.6mil­lion spent in 30 shops.

Tar­get

The fig­ures con­trast dras­ti­cally with the richer ar­eas. There are no FOBTs in Hen­leyon-Thames, where the aver­age house price is well over the na­tional aver­age and Hol­ly­wood star Or­lando Bloom has a place.

Well-heeled Wir­ral West has two bet­ting shops with £299,000 taken by their FOBTs. York Outer, North Here­forde­ford and Broad­land in East Anglia glia also have low FOBT counts.

There are 43 con­stituen­cies ncies with more than 30 bet­ting ting shops. More than 70 per cent have an above aver­age ge c l aimant c ount f or job­seeker’s al­lowance.

The As­so­ci­a­tion of Bri­tish Book­mak­ers said:aid: “Bet­ting shops no more tar­get de­prived ar­eas than han Marks & Spencer. Thereere are more in the largestst com­mer­cial cen­tres. We op­er­ate where there are e the most cus­tomers.”

CHAL­LENGE: Min­is­ter Tracey Crouch

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