Astonishing new figures estimate that punters across Ellesmere Port and Neston have lost over £15m in recent years through the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’.
The cost to the local economy since 2008 has been raised by MP Justin Madders (Lab) who has criticised the Government’s failure to bring down the maximum allowed stake on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) from £100 to £2
Labour MPs, including Mr Madders, say they have been campaigning for many years to tighten control on FOBT gaming machines which have been described as the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’ and have caused ‘huge damage’ to families and communities across the country.
FOBT machines allow users to gamble up to £100 every 20 seconds which can lead to huge losses, wider issues in society and family breakdown.
British gamblers lost a total of £1.7bn on FOBTs in 2015 with 11.5% of all FOBT users thought to be serious gambling addicts.
Labour MPs are disappointed that following a much delayed review and sustained pressure from the Labour Party and gambling campaigners, the Government has announced a further consultation on the maximum stake allowed on FOBTs rather than take firm action to curb ‘these addictive machines’.
Restrictions on the machines would have a huge positive impact on the district it is believed.
Figures compiled for the Campaign for Fairer Gambling estimate that there are 54 FOBTs in Ellesmere Port and Neston alone with local residents losing £2,226,499 between 2015-16 and a total of £15,084,218 between 2008-2016.
Mr Madders said: “This is a disappointing move from the Government who appear deaf to the concerns raised by campaigners and others who have been telling the Government for years that they must do something about these highly addictive machines.
“Families across the country have been devastated by the effects of gambling addiction which is too often accompanied by theft and drug and alcohol abuse.
“Reducing the maximum stake on FOBTs from £100 to £2 will make all our communities safer and better off and it’s now up to the Government to reconsider its approach and take firm action now.”
Each FOBT machine is said to bring in an average of £52,887 per year.