The UK Government encouraged to restrict FOBTs
Three local councils have joined a list of authorities that have announced their support for an initiative to encourage the Government to restrict fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) in the UK.
According to a statement from the ‘Stop the FOBTs’ campaign, Fareham Council, Brighton and Hove City Council and Preston Council have all voted in favour of restricting FOBTs.
The addition of the three new councils comes shortly after Liverpool City Council and Hackney Council passed similar motions proposals last month, with the former calling for an outright ban on FOBTs.
Although the number of FOBTs per betting shop is limited to four, councils are currently restricted in their potential to control or restrict the number of betting shops in their constituency.
Many local authorities having demanded more powers to deal with FOBTs, which have been described as the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling due to their addictiveness and the ability for players to spend up to £100 every 20 seconds on the machines.
Fareham Council voted on the Government to reduce the minimum stake on FOBTs to £2, a move that would bring them in line with machines in pubs, bingo halls and amusement arcades.
“I acted many years ago to remove the scourge of slot machines from Fareham’s chip shops, takeaways and other premises where children could use them unsupervised,” Fareham Council’s leader, Sean Woodward, said.
“Now we have the march into betting shops of the FOBTs where up to £100 can be bet every 20 seconds. They are the crack cocaine of gambling.”
Brighton Council also voted unanimously to pressure the Government into taking action, highlighting Ireland’s decision to totally ban FOBTs.
“I am really concerned about the impact FOBTs are having in Brighton and Hove, risking vulnerable people getting into debt with crime and anti-social behaviour escalating in the city as a result of these machines,” Brighton Council’s Labour councillor, Emma Daniel, said.
In addition, John Swindell, Preston Council’s deputy leader, received unanimous support for his proposed motion to reduce the maximum stake on FOBTs to £2 in order to restrict the speed of play to one spin every two minutes and reduce the number of FOBTs in betting shops.
“With four hundred Preston families using food banks every week and one in four adults in serious debt, the last thing Preston needs is more bookmakers with FOBTs,” Swindell said.
Derek Webb, founder of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling’s ‘Stop the FOBTs’ campaign, added: “Local communities and their councillors are far better placed to assess the damage FOBTs are causing than gambling regulators and highly paid civil servants in Whitehall.
“It is time the Government listened to local authorities, instead of ignoring the localism agenda it claims to support.”