Gambling addiction is one of the most common addictions in the UK, with hundreds of thousands of people struggling every day with a compulsion to gamble. Gambling has become so easy to access thanks in no small part to smartphones and other mobile devices that can access the internet. With the number of online gaming sites growing all the time, it is hardly surprising that more and more people are attempting to win big. Promises of free bets for new customers are enticing while many hear stories of individuals winning thousands of pounds from small stakes spins.
Nevertheless, although the rare stories of big wins from small stakes make the news and give people a thrill, most are unaware of the devastation that gambling can cause when it gets out of control. And many are oblivious to the fact that thousands upon thousands of people never win big; in fact, many end up with huge debts after spending every penny they have on trying to get rich.
It is not only online gambling sites that individuals are becoming addicted to. Across the UK, thousands of people have developed problem gambling habits because of fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs). These gambling machines are placed in almost every betting shop around the country and allow punters to stake up to £100 per spin. Those who are betting the maximum amount could place three spins every minute and could therefore potentially be losing £300 pound per minute. It is easy to see how thousands of pounds can be squandered in a short space of time.
Birmingham councillors have now overwhelmingly voted in favour of lobbying the Government for more control over FOBTs. They say these machines are blighting communities, and so they want to have greater control over them as well as the ability to ban them. FOBTs have been dubbed the crack cocaine of gambling, and there are around 650 of them in Birmingham betting shops alone.
In the year up to September 2014, £1.6 billion was lost on FOBTs according to The Gambling Commission. Birmingham councillors believe that these machines are having an adverse impact on the citys residents, with those in poorer areas being particularly vulnerable. They now want the Government to give them more control over planning permission for betting shops as well as being able to set the maximum spin limit on betting machines to £2.
Growing Number of Betting Machines
According to Councillor Karen Trench, there has been a growing number of betting shops in her area, and she says that growth is driven by FOBT profits. She said, I have spoken with psychologists about this, and those machines have strong reinforcing features which keep players coming back, such as paying out every so often to keep people playing but always making a profit.
She believes these betting machines are more addictive than any other type of gambling and wants more local controls over them. Councillor Alex Yip agreed, and said, We need to give the council powers to limit the damage these FOBTs can cause to our residents and communities.
He said he knew of Birmingham residents who had lost their livelihoods because of gambling addictions, and said that studies have shown a link between gambling addiction and various forms of violence and debt.
Birmingham councillors are not the first to campaign for a change to the way FOBTs are regulated. Many people across the country are urging the Government to do more to tackle the effect that these machines are having on communities. Experts believe that the maximum spin should be no more than £2, but so far their calls have been unanswered with many believing the profits generated from FOBTs are the main reason for no acurces:
Source: The Birmingham Mail