MOVES to set limits on the amount of time and money spent on gaming machines have been welcomed after new figures revealed that Bolton’s gamblers spent almost £35.5 million on them.
Conservative councillor Martyn Cox, who has branded the machines “dreadful”, warned that if the industry did not uphold the new code of conduct, new laws could be introduced.
The Campaign for Fairer Gambling estimates that £35,494,762 was staked on the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) — a touchscreen machine with a variety of different games — in Bolton alone.
The most popular is roulette and it is possible to bet up to £100 each time.
Under the new code of conduct launched by the industry, staff will be alerted when the set limit is reached and the machine will alert the customer and force a 30-second break in play.
The technology to enable the new measures is being installed on 33,000 machines across England and Wales, although testing and installation require-ments means it will take up to six months.
Cllr Cox, who has raised the issue of gambling machines at Bolton Council meetings, said: “I would much rather the industry regulate itself than the government.
“There are cases where the government does need to protect people, but I would rather the industry did it first.
“These machines are not illegal and there is a clearly an opportunity in Bolton and across the country to work with the industry.”
The Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) said the code had the “full support” of the gambling industry.
Chief executive Dirk Vennix said: “The code will help give players more control and encourage responsible gambling.
“It forms part of the industry’s proactive efforts to be socially responsible, to tackle problem gambling and to ensure a duty of care towards every customer.”
Bolton is in the top 55 deprived boroughs in the country and statistics collated show that there are around 8,932 people who play the machines, with an average of about £755 lost per player per year.