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Redbridge councillor: Betting machines are the “crack cocaine” of the industry

PUBLISHED: 12:39 28 November 2013 | UPDATED: 12:39 28 November 2013

Cllr Ruth Clark wants the Government to take action on betting machines and for the council to establish partnership with betting shops.

Cllr Ruth Clark wants the Government to take action on betting machines and for the council to establish partnership with betting shops.

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Bookmakers should sign up to a special set of rules to help clampdown on betting machines dubbed the “crack cocaine” of the industry, according to a Redbridge councillor.

Cllr Ruth Clark, who represents Aldborough ward, is calling for a code of conduct to be drawn up between Redbridge Council and bookmakers to tackle the borough’s gambling problems.

She would like to see this used to monitor the number of betting shops in the area and to assess the impact of machines known as Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), which she claims are highly addictive and can get people into serious financial difficulty.

Targeting

She said: “There are more betting shops in poorer areas, particularly Ilford, than in more affluent areas of the borough. I think they [bookmakers] are targeting the vulnerable and people’s lives are damaged by it.

“I am not anti-gambling, that is not what this is about. It is not about normal gambling, this is more serious. It is possible to lose £300 per minute on these terminals.

“They’re the crack cocaine of the betting industry and that is what we want to stop.”

Cllr Clark believes Redbridge should follow the lead of Medway Council in Kent, who have established a partnership with betting shops and trailed a voluntary scheme to restrict FOBTs in their town centre.

She said this could also stamp out other issues surrounding gambling such as drugs and money laundering, adding: “Just to get someone in there [betting shops] checking the toilets would make it more difficult for negative activities to take place.”

At last week’s full council meeting councillors agreed a motion to lobby the Government to give them greater powers to prevent the growth in betting shops.

A spokesman for Ladbrokes said betting shop numbers have been relatively stable in recent years though there are more in close proximity to each other following a change in planning laws.

He added: “We are always willing to meet with local representatives to explain the betting business and dispel the myths propogated by campaigners and it is disappointing some councillors choose to level any number of accusations at betting shops when these claims are not borne out by evidence.”


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