BETTING shops should be better regulated to protect gamblers from fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs), according to town hall bosses.
Councillors unanimously voted to write to the government demanding urgent action against the machines — where players can bet up to £100 every 20 seconds.
The motion, tabled by Cllr Kate Lewis, also calls on the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, to create a separate planning class use for betting shops and give local authorities powers to stop more bookies opening in town centre.
Cllr Lewis told a full council there are more than 33,000 FOBTs in the UK, with the majority concentrated in deprived areas like Bolton.
She added: “Problem gambling doesn’t just hurt the individuals and the families involved — it hurts our communities and society as a whole.
“The proliferation of betting shops — along with pawn brokers and payday loan shops — is damaging the quality of local high streets, and the cash that disappears into these machines is largely money that would have otherwise been spent in the local economy.”
A single gambler can bet up to £300 a minute on a FOBT, which speeds up casino games to allow people to place large bets in rapid succession.
Cllr Bob Allen said the machines were a ‘scourge’ on Bolton, and threw his weight behind the motion.
He added: “I’m passionately against these machines, because I have seen first-hand what this kind of gambling can do.
“I know what it is like to be told there is no food because a member of the family has blown away the money gambling.
“The government needs to act, because we need powers as a council to licence these premises — our licensing bodies currently have no authority whatsoever.”
Both Labour and Conservative governments have their share of the blame in the proliferation of bookies and gambling terminals, said Tory councillor Martyn Cox.
He added: “This town doesn’t need these machines and the sooner we get rid of them the better.”