Redbridge Council on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals: ‘We are very concerned’

Cllr Ross Hatfull

Cllr Ross Hatfull - Credit: Archant

Gamblers lost more than £16.2 million on betting machines – often labelled the “crack cocaine of gambling” – last year, new statistics have shown.

Tougher restrictions will be in place for FOBTs

Tougher restrictions will be in place for FOBTs - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

The figure – £16,283,197 – is a small decrease on 2013/14 when around £16.5 million was gambled on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs).

An estimated 10,653 players used 256 FOBTs in 71 betting shops, which align high streets across the borough, according to Fairer Gambling UK.

This week Cllr Ross Hatfull, cabinet member for community safety and enforcement, stressed Redbridge Council would not let up in its pursuit to change planning laws to stop betting shops popping up “next to or within a hundred yards of each other”.

He said: “The government said it was consulting on reducing the amount that people could bet, but we do not feel that goes far enough.”

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Gamblers can play casino-style games with £100 maximum stake per spin on FOBTs – or lose their three figure stake in just 20 seconds.

Across the country there is an estimated 33,345 machines in use.

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“We are very concerned with how much people can bet on one spin of the machine,” said Cllr Hatfull.

“And how the machines can be used for money laundering.

“There is betting shop after betting shop in each [street] parade because they open within a hundred yards of each other or right next to each other.”

Cllr Hatfull puts the slight decrease in the amount gambled down to the increase in awareness of the dangers of FOBTs.

“With the government making sounds it is consulting on tighter controls that has had an impact,” he said.

“The council has also made sure each betting shop is meeting all the conditions put in place.

“We want to be able to stop betting shops opening up next to each other,” he added.

“We want to keep pushing until there is a change in the law, so that betting shops have their own planning class and then we can rule them out.”

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