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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

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Shock at South Cumbria £150m spend on lure of fixed odds machines

HIGHLY addictive fixed odds betting terminals, dubbed the “crack cocaine of gambling”, are costing punters in south Cumbria tens of millions of pounds a year, new figures have revealed.

‘danger’ Pastor Fred McKeown, of Millom Community Church, says the problem of gambling, main picture, is bigger than he could ever have imagined

Recently released statistics, based on average betting industry figures, show that more than £150m was spent on touch-screen roulette and casino machines in betting shops across Barrow, Copeland and the South Lakes in 2012.

Using the FOBTs, it is possible to stake up to £100 every 20 seconds.

According to the figures which were released by the campaign for fairer gambling, Stop the FOBTs, the biggest spending was in the Barrow and Furness area where £62,677,290 was spent on 58 FOBTs.

A total of £58,792,227 was spent at 55 machines in Copeland and gamblers in Westmorland and Lonsdale wagered £31,459,112 at 29 terminals.

Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock said: “These machines make it frighteningly easy to chuck money away, sometimes up to £300 a minute, and they can draw people into gambling addiction, debt and misery.

“Fixed odds betting machines are gaining a reputation as the crack cocaine of gambling and our community should be allowed its say in whether and where we allow them.”

Pastor Fred McKeown, 48, of Millom Community Church, was addicted to gambling and alcohol until finding faith at the age of 22.

He said: “They are a danger to people who have a disposition towards gambling.

“There is a great need for branches of Gamblers Anonymous in Cumbria, as the more I talk to people, the more I hear how the problem is bigger than I could ever have imagined.

“Gambling seems to be just a bit of fun for some people. But for others it is far from that. It can take people into a life of depression, rejection, isolation and even thoughts of suicide.”

Councillor Graham Vincent, South Lakes District Council portfolio holder for health and wellbeing, said: “The overall figures for the UK suggest that fewer people are experiencing gambling problems directly, but I am concerned that there are groups of the population such as in Barrow, Copeland and South Lakeland, where the risks remain significantly greater.

“Not only am I worried about the availability of gambling, but also the amount of money which can be lost in less than a minute. This has serious health and possible crime implications on the individuals concerned.

“I meet regularly with Barrow and South Lakeland Community Safety Partnership and we are gathering information on the impact gambling has on the area before drawing up a plan of action.”

Neil Goulden, chairman of the Association of British Bookmakers, said: “Betting is a pursuit enjoyed by millions of working class people throughout Britain and we seek to reach the widest audience possible by being present on high streets. But we accept that there are concerns about gaming machines and are always open to a constructive dialogue about the appropriate powers for local authorities.”

Have your say

I am ashamed to live in this country
where there are so many bookmakers
so close to one another in every town
spreading like a disease. Has the
government no consideration of the
many thousands of lives these vile
machines are destroying.

Posted by Kevin Edge on 25 January 2014 at 17:57

It was Labour who opened this can of worms, it seems that MP's from all parties seem to back ideas & businesses that they end up on the board of or who have friends & family links too

Posted by Tucker on 18 January 2014 at 11:40

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