Clampdown on fixed odds betting machines

A fixed odds betting terminal
A fixed odds betting terminal

WIGAN Council has maintained its critical stance on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) despite pressure from bookmakers.

The town hall will approve its gambling policy statement for 2016 to 2019 later this month and has highlighted in the foreword its “concern...of excessive use of FOBTs”.

This follows on from a motion last year by Coun Paul Prescott calling on the government to ban the controversial terminals.

FOBTs have been slammed by campaigners as the “crack-cocaine of gambling” due to their quick play and high stake nature.

The council’s policy foreword will read: “Wigan Council is concerned at the potential effects of excessive use of FOBTs by customers who may be least able to afford to lose cash, coupled with the speed and ease with which they can gamble compared with other forms of gambling.

“The Council therefore supports any campaign to reduce the stake on FOBTs to a maximum of £2 per spin.”

Committee agenda documents reveal that both Coral Racing and the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) raised their own concerns about the council including the statement in their policy.

In a letter, Coral Racing said: “Coral Racing and the wider betting industry have gone to great lengths to 
ensure that all customers using the facilities have the relevant information available whilst at the same time implementing revised procedures limiting stake levels and ensuring that our responsible gambling position is maintained at all times.

“We strongly caution against the council adopting a tabloid journalistic approach to this serious matter.”

Council officers have opted to keep the statement, adding: “With regard to the gambling industry’s comments, in view of the level of concerns about this particular matter, no changes are proposed.”