Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner says high speed gambling machines 'wreck lives'
Cambridge's MP has called for government intervention to tackle the problems caused by high speed gambling machines.
Daniel Zeichner says traditional bookies are being turned into"mini casinoswith fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) that can ruin lives. It is possible to bet up to £100 every 20 seconds on the machines and evidence suggests their high-speed nature makes them particularly addictive to problem gamblers.
Mr Zeichner has seen a"a sizeable increase in casework from worried residents".
The Labour MP said:"I have heard from families that have been wrecked by these machines; with wages spent in a matter of minutes and no money left to cover basic bills, rents or mortgages."
The machines include slot machines and those allowing players to bet on games such as roulette, bingo or simulated racing.
"I was very disappointed that, in July 2015, the Government rejected proposals from over 90 local councils to reduce the maximum stake on FOBTs from £100 to £2,said Mr Zeichner."I am aware that the fixed odds betting terminals all party parliamentary group has also called for the maximum stake to be cut from £100 to £2, on a precautionary basis until sufficient evidence is presented that the high stakes on these machines do not cause harm.
"I welcome the current review of Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures, which applies to England, Scotland and Wales. This shows that the Government has finally woken up to the fact that it has not done enough to curtail the proliferation of FOBTs.
"The review is looking at the maximum stakes and prizes for gaming machines and also at whether the right measures are in place to protect the young and vulnerable from gambling advertising. The call for evidence closed on December 4 and I will follow the outcome closely."
Peter Craske, spokesman for the Association of British Bookmakers, told the Cambridge Independent:"Unlike similar machines in amusement arcades or casinos, gaming machines in bookmakers allow customers to set a limit on the amount they spend or the time they play for. Betting shops themselves are the most regulated retailer on the high street.
"The 80 people who work in Cambridge's betting shops are trained to spot anyone who may be getting into difficulty with their gambling and offer them the help they need.
He said the average stake on a betting shop gaming machine in Cambridge is £9, and an average customer plays for about 10 minutes.