Preston City Council 'demands' gambling machine action

A council is to write to the government to "demand urgent action" for a ban of gambling machines in betting shops.

Preston City Council said the increased use of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) is causing "significant problems" in the city.

Councillors also voted unanimously for a motion calling for councils to be able cut the maximum stakes of FOBTs, which include games like roulette.

The Association of British Bookmakers said "we offer products people want".

Councillor John Swindells (Labour) the deputy leader and cabinet member for planning and regulation, said he was delighted with the unanimous vote, adding: "Let's hope the government take notice."

'Respond to demand'

The council also suggested a change in planning regulations to reclassify betting shops.

It said there was a "prevalent use" of the machines in many betting shops across Preston.

The council motion said the government "should introduce legislation to prohibit FOBTs in betting shops".

The report said: "Gamblers can bet, using debit cards, up to £100 every 20 seconds on FOBTs to win a jackpot of £500 - over four times faster than the rate of play in casinos."

Peter Craske from the Association of British Bookmakers said: "Very few people bet £100 in one go.

"The average people spend is £7.55 on a machine and they play for about 15-20 minutes."

"We are like any other retailer on the high street. We offer products people want and we respond to customer demand," he added.

The council is writing to Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

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