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GAMBLING COMMISSION SEES IMPACT OF FOBTs IN GLASGOW AS CHANCELLOR DUCKS A REDUCTION IN MAXIMUM STAKES

Gambling Commission officials have been shown, first hand, how controversial Fixed Odds Betting Terminals are fuelling problem betting in Glasgow.

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Councillor Michelle Ferns took regulators on a tour of betting shops in Shettleston, amid growing anger over the UK Government’s decision to delay implementing a cap on stakes.

 

Chancellor Philip Hammond has confirmed the cut from £100 to £2, planned for April 2019 will now not go ahead until October next year.

 

The visit came as the UK’s Sports Minister Tracey Crouch resigned her post in protest against the delay in the crackdown on maximum stakes for Fixed Odds Betting Terminals.

 

Cllr Ferns said: “These machines are a social blight on communities across Glasgow – and I thought it was vital for the Gambling Commission to see first-hand how prominent they are in a place like Shettleston, which faces so many challenges.

 

“They were able to see for themselves in a high street like this how clustering and overprovision can see up to 10 outlets with four machines each in as little as a mile.

 

“Gambling addiction has a huge impact on our communities, socially and economically. I engage with families where problem gambling has led to spiralling debt, it can lead to homelessness and in the most severe cases suicide.

 

“So I appreciate the regulator taking up my invitation to visit Shettleston and see the negative impact of this on our streets.”

 

Research from Landman Economics has shown that the average FOBT user loses £192 a month, with the average user of machines already capped at £2 a spin losing just £22 in comparison.

 

Councillor Ferns was joined in Shettleston by Gambling Commission Executive Director Tim Miller, who got a first-hand glimpse of how betting shops have become clustered in many of our communities.

 

A prolific campaigner on gambling-related harm, with personal experience of how problem gambling can affect families and communities, Cllr Ferns has lobbied for the industry to provide more funding to support research and treatment.

 

She is also the former Chair of the council’s General Purposes Committee, which is currently gathering evidence on the public health impact of gambling.

 

Speaking after the visit, she said: “FOBTs are creating toxic high streets and current UK legislation does not empower Scottish local authorities and Licensing Boards to fight back.

 

“Even some UK Government ministers believe that pushing back the date on capping the stakes until next autumn is unjustifiable and could cost the lives of problem gamblers, some of them no doubt here in Glasgow.

 

“Miss Crouch said that £1.6bn will be lost on these machines during that delay. I applaud her principled position.

 

“Given the huge social harm being caused by these machines, reducing the maximum stake to £2 was the right decision. The Government now needs to back up its words with action.

 

“Further delays only serve to line the pockets of the bookmakers and does little to support those individuals and families whose lives have been devastated by the addictive nature of these machines.”