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Southwark Labour backs campaign to restrict “crack cocaine of gambling”


27 November 2014
Cllr Ian Wingfield Southwark has joined with local authorities across the country to force Government to cut the amount of money that can be gambled on controversial Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), known as the “crack cocaine of gambling.”

Over 80 local authorties, led by Newham Council, have joined forces to submit a proposal under the Sustainable Communities Act, calling on the Government to reduce the maximum stake to £2 per spin, which would bring FOBTs into line with other gambling machines.

FOBTs can take bets of up to £100 every 20 seconds and have been linked to gambling addiction, violence in betting shops, abuse to staff and money laundering. Only four of these highly lucrative machines are allowed in each betting shop, which has led to clusters of betting shops on high streets, particularly in more deprived areas.

Southwark Council has become the latest in a growing number of local authorities to add their name to the list of supporters for this important campaign.

Councillor Ian Wingfield, Cabinet Member for Communities, Employment and Business, said:

“In Southwark we’ve been campaigning to stop the spread of betting shops and fixed odds betting terminals, but the Government has refused to give councils the powers needed to really tackle this growing problem. We’re now joining with other councils across the country to say enough is enough – the Government needs to do more to reduce the stakes on these addictive gambling machines and to stop them being clustered in areas of deprivation.

“Southwark and other councils are playing our part in tackling this issue but the government needs to recognise the harmful effects of these gambling machines and give councils the power to protect our local areas and the wellbeing of our communities from this growing problem.”

Adrian Parkinson from The Campaign for Fairer Gambling, which has been campaigning for a reduction in the maximum stake to £2 per spin, said: 

"With over 80 councils now backing the call for stakes on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals to be cut to £2 per spin in line with all other high street gaming machines, the coalition must start listening. These machines have taken over our high streets and town centers over the last 12 years with increasing evidence that they are the most addictive gambling product in the UK. People who live in Southwark know only to well the problems being created in their communities by betting shops and FOBTs and their council like many others across the country have been forced to take action due to the government's inaction."

Newham will submit its proposal this month, with the Government obliged to respond within six months.
 
For more information on the Campaign for Fairer Gambling and its Stop the FOBTs campaign, please visit www.stopthefobts.org / www.fairergambling.org


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