Bolton Council demands urgent action against £300-a-minute gambling machine 'scourge'

The number of gaming machines is on the increase

The number of gaming machines is on the increase

First published in News The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , politics reporter

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.”

Comments (3)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

12:20am Sat 19 Apr 14

Reed Lover says...

You can't bet £300 a minute and besides, which "deprived" person can even afford to do that? These arguments simply do not make any sense.
Why is it that politicians and councillors always know what is best for us yet cannot demonstrate that skill in their chosen careers? It's easy to take away, easy to put the blame for society's ills on something else when it's your job to positively affect people's lives yet fail miserably time and time again. Regenerate the town centre then when business returns to buoyancy you can control the growth of betting shops by setting the rates at such a level that bookmaker's profit margins are seriously eroded. Ladbrokes and Hills business performance is available for everyone to peruse because they are both PLCs that have to make their accounts public. There is absolutely nothing in those figures that suggest bookies are making anything like the profits people are claiming. William Hill made more profit from their online digital gambling operation than Ladbrokes made across their whole business. Ladbrokes and Hills have 5000 shops between them and if they raked in the kind of profits being claimed by the hand-wringers they would be amongst the top 20 companies in the UK yet Hills barely scrape into the FTSE 100 and Ladbrokes are in the FTSE 250. Applying basic arithmetic will show you that the detractors and meddlers who want to save us from ourselves are talking utter nonesense.
You can't bet £300 a minute and besides, which "deprived" person can even afford to do that? These arguments simply do not make any sense. Why is it that politicians and councillors always know what is best for us yet cannot demonstrate that skill in their chosen careers? It's easy to take away, easy to put the blame for society's ills on something else when it's your job to positively affect people's lives yet fail miserably time and time again. Regenerate the town centre then when business returns to buoyancy you can control the growth of betting shops by setting the rates at such a level that bookmaker's profit margins are seriously eroded. Ladbrokes and Hills business performance is available for everyone to peruse because they are both PLCs that have to make their accounts public. There is absolutely nothing in those figures that suggest bookies are making anything like the profits people are claiming. William Hill made more profit from their online digital gambling operation than Ladbrokes made across their whole business. Ladbrokes and Hills have 5000 shops between them and if they raked in the kind of profits being claimed by the hand-wringers they would be amongst the top 20 companies in the UK yet Hills barely scrape into the FTSE 100 and Ladbrokes are in the FTSE 250. Applying basic arithmetic will show you that the detractors and meddlers who want to save us from ourselves are talking utter nonesense. Reed Lover
  • Score: 6

12:56am Sun 20 Apr 14

Richas says...

Unanimous to demand powers to prevent bookmakers opening? Unanimous against their proliferation? Lets have a look at what has happened since the council took over their licencing from magistrates:
2007 - there were 22 bookies in Bolton. At the end of 2013 there were 20.

The "proliferation" that needs to be addressed "urgently" is a net two closures.....this unanimous demand for powers to stop adults making adult choices is precisely why councillors should never be given such powers.
Unanimous to demand powers to prevent bookmakers opening? Unanimous against their proliferation? Lets have a look at what has happened since the council took over their licencing from magistrates: 2007 - there were 22 bookies in Bolton. At the end of 2013 there were 20. The "proliferation" that needs to be addressed "urgently" is a net two closures.....this unanimous demand for powers to stop adults making adult choices is precisely why councillors should never be given such powers. Richas
  • Score: 3

3:49pm Tue 22 Apr 14

Back oth Bank Boy says...

Bookmakers lobby is very strong, brown envelope they push under politicians' tables are very thick. No way they will listen to 'do gooders'.Addiction of those machines are worse then cigs., drugs, alcoholic drinks. Gambling can destroy addict and his family.
Bookmakers lobby is very strong, brown envelope they push under politicians' tables are very thick. No way they will listen to 'do gooders'.Addiction of those machines are worse then cigs., drugs, alcoholic drinks. Gambling can destroy addict and his family. Back oth Bank Boy
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree