Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

No Extra Controls for High Stakes Machines

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

No Extra Controls for High Stakes Machines

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Walker Political Editor

A PLAN to tighten controls on high stake gambling machines which last year sucked PS31m out of the North East economy has been knocked back.

The Government won a Commons majority of 82 in a vote on a Labour motion calling for local councils to be given the power to limit the number of the machines which allow gamblers to bet PS300 in a minute.

Labour had hoped Liberal Democrat and Tory MPs would rebel against the Government and support their demands for further controls.

Earlier, Prime Minister David Cameron insisted he would be prepared act if research suggested the machines - dubbed the "crack cocaine" of the gambling world - need to be more tightly regulated.

The Journal revealed earlier this week how millions of pounds were lost each year in the North East's poorest communities on these high stakes gambling machines.

Campaigners say the fixed odds terminals are used by the most vulnerable in society.

A recent survey revealed the region's men to be the most active gamblers in the country with 34% of them aged 16 or over having gambled at least three times in the last 12 months.

The research, carried out by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), showed just 24% of the region's men don't gamble at all, while 9% - the highest proportion in the UK - admitted to taking part in seven or more gambling activities in a year.

A separate report revealed how the 966 high-stake machines took PS31m out of the region's economy in 2012/13.

North East MP Roberta Blackman-Woods had helped lead the Labour campaign for tougher controls on fixed odds betting terminals, backed by Labour leader Ed Miliband.

The high-stakes machines, known as fixed odds betting terminals, can be installed in high street bookmakers and allow customers to bet PS100 every 20 seconds. …

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