Betting terminals raking in millions

MILLIONS of pounds per year are being gambled in fixed odds betting terminals across this area.

The touch screen machines are considered by some to be ‘the crack cocaine of gambling’, with punters able to risk hundreds of pounds every few seconds on games such as virtual roulette.

Research carried out by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling has shown the machines are more profitable to bookies in areas with higher levels of unemployment.

In the Glenrothes constituency, which includes Methil, Methilhill, parts of Leven and Buckhaven, the research shows well over £45 million was gambled across 44 machines in 12 licensed bookies in just one year.

In North East Fife, there are 22 fixed odds terminals available to local punters, with over £22 million gambled across them.

Adrian Parkinson, from the campaign, was involved with launching fixed the terminals from 1999 until 2008.

He told the Mail: “The Gambling Act 2005 limits each betting shop to four FOBTs – so bookies leapfrog regulations by opening up as many shops as possible, which is why we get clustering, especially in poorer areas as our research has shown.

“In 2007, a scoping study into the Gambling Act recommended FOBTs be ‘closely monitored’ because of international research that suggested they had features that could create more problem gamblers.

“However, no such monitoring has taken place, and the government is due to respond to a select committee report next week calling for the cap of four FOBTs per shop to be lifted as an ‘anti-clustering measure’.”

The campaign believes the only way to stop machine-driven proliferation of betting shops is to make the machines less profitable.

It proposes a reducing of the maximum stake from £100 down to £2.

The figure for the total gambled may include winnings which are subsequently lost, and not necessarily money placed into the machine. The gambling industry says the machines are meant to be played in a responsible manner.