An explosion in the number of high-stakes gambling machines, linked to problem gambling, is fuelling profits of over £15 million a week for ‘high street’ bookmakers, research by the Liberal Democrats has found.
Key findings included:
· High street bookies are now taking up to £830 million a year from Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) - with some bookies’ profits having risen by 1217% in five years.
· In 2000 there were only 14,500 gambling machines in UK bookies, but since the Government’s reforms that number has increased to 24,500 in terms of FOBT’s alone.
· The proportion of GamCare callers citing high-stakes gambling machines as their main gambling activity has almost tripled since 2003.
Commenting, Liberal Democrat Shadow Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, Don Foster said:
"There’s nothing wrong with people enjoying the occasional flutter, but these machines are raising serious concerns about the levels of problem gambling.
"This Government has presided over a gambling regime that allows more addictive forms of gambling to blossom while letting softer forms of gambling, like bingo, suffer.
"Ministers need to take their eyes off the revenue that gambling tax brings in and have a long hard look at the lack of support out there for those who have a problem.
"We urgently need independent research into the impact that these machines are having on gambling addiction."