Electronic betting machines- the crack cocaine of the gambling industry

Gamblers in Wales alone have spent more than £1.5 billion on electronic betting machines found in bookmakers and casinos last year according to new research.It is the equivalent of £650 a year for every adult in Wales who gambled on fixed odds casino games machines.

However estimates show that gamblers in England stake even more on the machines, with the figures showing that the equivalent of £863 was gambled per adult on the machines – up 10% on the previous year.

Fairer Gambling, which lobbies for more regulation, described the machines as the “crack cocaine” of the industry and called for better regulation.

Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) are found in most high street bookmakers and allow bets of up to £100 every 20 seconds.

They include gambling games such as roulette and bingo.

In Wales, bookmakers made more than £50 million from the machines last year – up 5.6% on 2011.

The figures were compiled by Fairer Gambling used statistics from the Gambling Commission.

Adrian Parkinson, a campaigner with Fairer Gambling, was a manager at a bookmakers when the terminals were rolled out between 1999 and 2001.

“I’m not here to say the machines should be taken off the high street and we’re not anti-gambling,” he said.

“Our objective is to see restrictions put in place on the casino content on these machines. All the problems emanate from the casino content.

“When the machines were first rolled out staff at the bookmakers started telling us there was a problem.

“The words that were being used were ‘addiction’ and one of the managers described them as the ‘crack cocaine of the gambling industry’.

“I think the issue is you can bet a larger stake than you can for any other machines out there. These are fruit machines for the 21st Century. Whereas a fruit machine previously you would put in a pound coin, now you can bet £100.”

“Those two numbers are very, very different.  Bookmakers are extracting money, we believe, from some of the poorest areas of the UK.”

The moral of the story is that all gambling methods are rigged- to the owners’ advantage. It’s a mugs game- as the old adage goes- just say no.