UK GOVERNMENT URGED TO TACKLE "CRACK COCAINE" OF GAMBLING
Patricia Gibson MP is supporting British Amusement Catering Trade Association (BACTA) calls to cut the maximum stakes for fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) to £2.
The machines currently allow players to stake up to £100 every 20 seconds on computer versions of games such as roulette, poker and blackjack.
According to BACTA, £4,843,791 was lost across North Ayrshire in 2016. In total, £32,815,958 was lost through gambling from 2008-2016.
The average user loses about £1,200 every year on the machines.
A recent report by Centre for Economics and Business Research, commissioned by BACTA, revealed the losses and what they are costing each year in money, health and job problems associated with addiction to the terminals.
John White, Chief Executive of BACTA, said:
“This research starkly demonstrates the human cost that FOBTs bring, to both problem gamblers and their families.
“Only by cutting FOBT stakes to £2 can we begin to make progress with the huge task of tackling problem gambling, one that starts with removing the most obvious incentives to harm.”
North Ayrshire & Arran MP Patricia Gibson added:
“Known as the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling with stakes as high as £100 every 20 seconds it is easy to see how people become addicted tro FOBTs and tragic to see how much money is wasted across North Ayrshire every year.
“The UK Government - to which powers over gambling is reserved - has a real opportunity to act and tackle gambling-related harm by reducing the maximum unit stake on fixed odds betting terminals to £2 per spin would be part of that solution.
“In the meantime, I urge anyone dealing with gambling problems in North Ayrshire to seek support by contacting Gamblers Anonymous Scotland, who meet at Ardrossan Civic Centre on Mondays between 19:30 and 21:30.
“They can be contacted via www.gascotland.org or on 0370 0508881.”