More than £4 million was lost in just one year by people in Stockton North and several times more across Teesside on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), and local MP Alex Cunningham today demanded that the Government act.
In his question to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport yesterday Alex asked:
“Nearly £4million was lost on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals in my Stockton North constituency by those who can least afford it. I know the Minister is aware of the concerns and problems again highlighted in an APPG report last week.
“Can I urge her to respond positively and let’s have lower stakes for these machines?”
Responding to Alex’s question, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary Tracey Crouch, said:
“We announced the review of gaming machines in October 2016. I am currently considering the findings, and we will be publishing a report shortly.”
Recent findings from the Campaign for Fairer Gambling have found that nearly £4million has been lost by FOBT gamblers in Stockton North alone, with the total for Stockton Borough reaching just under £6million in 2014/15.
There are an estimated 100 FOBTs in Stockton North alone, with less than half of that in neighbouring constituency Stockton South, equaling a huge number of 148 FOBTs within 40 betting shops across the Stockton Borough.
FOBTs are gambling machines that are normally found in high street betting shops that allow players to bet on the outcome of various games and events with fixed odds. They have been a regular source of controversy as the machines are highly addictive, despite the Association of British Bookmakers introducing the facility for customers to set time and money limits on the machines.
Speaking after his question, Alex commented:
“These machines are sucking money out of the pockets of the families who can least afford them. It is vital that the Minister looks carefully at how they compare to the way other machines are regulated. The regulations applied to FOBTs are totally inadequate and I hope the Minister considers reducing the stake to £2.”