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Cllr Duffy Speech on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals

Thank You Mayor,

Since we wrote this motion I note that things I have moved on slightly in the last few days when the Department for Culture, Media and Sport finally announced a range of options for the new maximum stake in fixed odds betting terminals. The headline in the announcement has been to cut the maximum stake from £100 to between £50 and £2.

However, this is just ultimately another consultation and we need action now.  This disappointing as Government have lost a real opportunity to curb highly addictive Fixed Odds Betting Terminals which can cause real harm to people and local communities.  We need action now. This latest consultation ends on January 23 on we shouldn’t have to wait that long.

Fixed Odds Betting Terminals are often referred to as the Crack Cocaine of Gambling.  This is because of their highly addictive nature and the severe problems they cause.

Nationally gambling yields over £1.8 billion which is lost in Britain because of FOBTS.  We cannot ignore the correlation between problem gambling and these machines.  Programmes such as Panorama and the drama Broken have illustrated the strong effect FOBTS have on producing addiction in the brain and how this can destroy a person’s life leading to suicide.  A ex-gambling addict ran up debts of £250,000

Two of the factors of becoming a problem gambler are being young and being poor.  The Gambling Commission in 2016 showed the proportion of 11 to 15 year olds is twice the size of those who drink alcohol.  Landman Economics’ report shows that betting offices do target areas with high proportion of poverty.

 We all enjoy fun gambling and a lot of people enjoy a flutter but to those predisposed to addiction in one form or another, a loosely controlled industry such as gambling can be so destructive.  An explosion of gambling addiction has been created which nobody foresaw when it was made legal.  The costs of addiction, both in human suffering and financially is costing so much to put right which outweighs the amount of revenue of £450 billion to the Treasury in tax. 

The gambling industry is a huge profit making industry and is growing and should have tighter controls to protect the most vulnerable in our communities and pay its share in putting right what it causes.

So as I said at the beginning we now have a 12 week consultation so let’s ask our MPs to lobby for beneficial changes during this time. We need the maximum stake amount reduced from £100 to £20 and we also would like local authorities being the given powers to stop proliferation and clustering of betting shops to help prevent the costs associated with gambling addiction.

I hope you can support the motion.

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