Sunday Mail (UK)

I’ve known good people serious trouble because to ban them altogether.

McGovern Politician­s must take action now

- Mark Aitken Political Editor

He is the creator of a prime-time BBC drama in which the daughter of a gambling addict smashes up high-stakes takes slot machines withith a sledgehamm­er.

So it comes as little surprise when acclaimed TV and filmmaker Jimmy McGovern overn warns that fixed odds betting tting terminals in betting shops hops are destroying people’s lives. ves.

But the man behind ehi nd d groundbrea­king dramas as such as Hillsborou­gh, gh, Cracker and The Lakes kes has gone even further her than campaigner­s by y calling for the machines ines s to be banned from the high street.

McGovern has aalso lso praised the Sunday Mail for our series of articles ticles on the impact of FOBTs on communitie­s.

The machines – which allow players to stake up to £ 100 every 20 seconds on computer versions off games such as roulette, poker and blackjack – feature prominentl­y in McGovern’s six-part series Broken, starring Sean Bean and Anna Friel.

McGovern, who is a former compulsive gambler, describes the machines as “fatal”. He said: “The £100 spin is deadly – it hash to go. But I would gog as far as to ban £1 a nd £ 2 spins as well. I’d ban them altogether.” The The 68-year-old Live old Liver pudlian says he has seen f irst- hand the impact of FOBTs on players’ lives. He said: “I know people who got into serious debt and serious trouble because of those machines. “I can’t say who they are but they are good people.” McGovern was addicted to betting on horse racing in his 20s, before FOBTs were introduced into betting shops.

He added: “I would have been in serious trouble. I’m really glad they weren’t there.”

In BBC drama Broken, mum-of-three Roz Demichelis has a crippling addiction to FOBTs and steals more than £200,000 from her employer.

She takes her own life and her daughter Chloe – played by Outlander actress Lauren Lyle – vents her frustratio­n at the machines by smashing four of them in a bookies’ shop with a sledgehamm­er.

McGovern said: “Roz had to lie, cheat and steal. Gambling costs lives and fixed odds betting terminals cost a fair proportion of those lives.

“Gambling is an addiction and what you do to satisfy your addiction costs you great embarrassm­ent, shame and guilt.

“If you can’t live with that embarrassm­ent, shame and guilt, one option is suicide.”

The UK Government are expected to announce in February how much they will cap the size of stakes allowed on FOBTs.

Campaigner­s have urged a £ 2 limit but McGovern said: “I kind of laugh at the idea that the problem will be solved by reducing the maximum stake to £2 a spin – £2 a spin can take away your wages in a hour. I think high-stakes machines – and by high stakes I mean £1 a spin – belong in casinos where ordinary working-class people go once in a blue moon with £100 to lose. To lose it inadverten­tly in a high street, I think, is wrong.

“People go to the races expecting to lose £100 or £ 200 but it’s once every six months or so. You’re not going to do that each week.”

McGovern began his TV writing career on Brookside before going on to create his own dramas such as Cracker and The Street.

He said: “I’m not skint, by any means. I live a very comfortabl­e life but, to me, £ 2 a spin is a high- stakes machine. They

 ??  ?? WARNING Jimmy McGovern SPOTLIGHT Sean Bean as Fr Michael Kerrigan in BBC drama Broken. Below, our stories on the impact of FOBTs
WARNING Jimmy McGovern SPOTLIGHT Sean Bean as Fr Michael Kerrigan in BBC drama Broken. Below, our stories on the impact of FOBTs

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