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Call to outlaw fixed odds betting terminals

Gamblers in poorest areas of city spending £300 a minute to get lucky

Written by . Published on October 31st 2013.

Call to outlaw fixed odds betting terminals

FORGET Las Vegas, welcome to Las Liverpool, the gambling capital of Merseyside. 

But don’t expect dazzling, neon-lit boulevards lined with casinos. Instead think desperate addicts who are able to flutter away £100 every TWENTY seconds on what has been dubbed the “crack cocaine of gambling”. 

Liverpool people spend a cool £600m a year on gaming machines in betting shops across the city. 

And on Wednesday two Labour councillors, Cabinet Member Nick Small and former Lord Mayor Sharon Sullivan, will lead an assault on the growth of FOBTs, or Fixed Odds Betting Terminals in hundreds of betting shops. 

They want the high-stakes machines completely banned in city betting shops. 

Unlike fruit machines in pubs, bingo halls and amusement arcades, where cash stakes are limited to £2, gamblers using FOBTs can use debit cards to bet up to £100 every 20 seconds, chasing a jackpot of £500 – more than four times as fast as the rate of play in casinos. 


The councillors say that nationally, 80 percent of turnover in betting shops is from FOBTs with only 20 percent being from over-the-counter betting on sports and racing. 

Then comes the stark reality of this new form of gambling. 

Across the five Liverpool Parliamentary constituencies there are 153 betting shops with 559 fixed-odd terminals. In 2012 a gross amount of £607m was gambled in these betting shop, broken down as follows: 

* Liverpool Riverside – 52 betting shops - 189 FOBTs - £204m gross amount gambled.

* Liverpool Walton – 33 betting shops - 120 FOBTs - £129m gross amount gambled.

* Liverpool Wavertree – 31 betting shops -  115 FOBTs - £123m gross amount gambled.

* Liverpool West Derby – 20 betting shops - 73 FOBTs - £78m gross amount gambled.

* Garston & Halewood – 17 betting shops - 62 FOBTs - £67m gross amount gambled. 

A recent economic analysis was commissioned by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling to assess the impact of the growth in FOBTs on spending on local economies. 

The report concluded that an extra £1bn gambling on FOTBs produces a net reduction of 13,000 jobs. A projected doubling of FOBT revenue by 2023 could destroy as many as 23,000 jobs, it said. 


Proliferation Of BookiesThere are 153 betting shops in Liverpool

The report also highlighted the negative impact of the increase in new betting shops and relocation of betting shops to busy shopping areas is having on the wider retail economy. 


Cllrs Small and Sullivan say they are concerned about the lack of action by the Government, criticising the decision Culture Secretary earlier this month for failing to take any action to reduce maximum stakes, speed of play and maximum jackpots.  Such restrictions have been imposed across the Irish Sea  where the Irish Government has introduced legislation to outlaw FOBTs in betting shops. 

Liverpool Council will be asked to recognise the significant problems in Liverpool caused by FOBTs and call on the Government to introduce legislation to outlaw FOBTs in betting shops.

At  the very least they want local authorities to be given powers to protect the local amenity and wellbeing of communities by stopping the proliferation of betting shops and reducing maximum stakes and slowing down the speed of play of FOBTs.

Taking matters into their own hands

In the absence of Government action, some innovative work has been done by various councils, concerned about the problem. 

 The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham wants to use planning rules to restrict betting shops in its communities. 

In London, 14 councils want to use the Sustainable Communities Act to control the spread and activities of betting shops.

The London Borough of Lambeth is considering introducing local a local bye-law to reduce maximum stakes to £2 per spin and reduce speed of play. 

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9 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousOctober 31st 2013.

No wonder the country is on its knees

Fairy NuffOctober 31st 2013.

It's like giving carrots to a donkey. Why don't they cut out the middleman and give the benefits directly to the bookies, if you're going get fleeced it might as well be by a politician, they're used to lying through their teeth

AnonymousNovember 1st 2013.

Gambling is only a problem when you are losing.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Shame on themNovember 1st 2013.

There is no such thing as a winning gambler, never has been, never will. I pity people caught up in this. Gambling isn't as trendy a problem as other addictions but it is evil and interesting to see that they are targeting the poorest people with most betting shops in Riverside, Uncle Joe's ward and one of the poorest in Europe

AnonymousNovember 6th 2013.

Legislation and restrictions against this form of exploitative practise cannot be passed soon enough. These machines are blood-sucking leeches upon the most vulnerable.

Mark StonesDecember 22nd 2013.

I agree let us get rid of it all Camelot should hang their head in shame they need investigating as well what is the point of winning a pound for a pound

david weansDecember 23rd 2013.

There is an idiot born every minute

SaladDazeDecember 23rd 2013.

Why don't the Council simply expropriate everything in all the bookies shops and the pay day loans mafia joints. Then Joe could truly stand on the roof of the town hall and shout, "Top of the world, Ma."

AnonymousApril 24th 2014.

yes indeed. Much as I'd prefer people to not put money in these machines, since it's happening anyway why not refuse licenses to the betting corporations and open council-run shops instead? Serious suggestion. The profits on that £600million would go a long way towards making up the money we've lost in government cuts

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