Plans to crack down on highly addictive gambling machines which rake in millions of pounds a year in Blackpool do not go far enough, critics have warned today.
The Prime Minister has written to the betting industry outlining plans to limit the use of fixed odd betting terminals (FOBTs), which reportedly sucked in more than £160m in a single year in the resort.
But his proposals to cap losses at £250 and limit playing time to 30 minutes, after MPs voted to reject plans that would have given local authorities more power to restrict the use of FOBTs earlier this year, have been criticised for not doing enough to tackle the problem.
The machines reportedly allow punters to bet as much as £100 in 20 seconds, and have been dubbed the “crack cocaine” of gambling.
And Blackpool Coun John Jones, who has campaigned for stricter regulation of FOBTs, said David Cameron needs to do more.
He said: “I think he is just playing around the edges of the problem really.
“He is not tackling the cause of it and he should legislate to make sure they are in controlled areas.”
It has been reported that Mr Cameron wrote to gambling industry bosses detailing his proposals, but a leaked document suggest the changes would have a limited impact.
It has been claimed one betting firm, Ladbrokes, took £1bn from the machines in a single month – but the average spend on them was just £93, and fewer than one in 10 punters played for more than half an hour.
Coun Jones added: “These machines are very addictive. They should be controlled and in limited areas.
“They should not be freely available in betting shops where you can walk in off the street, sit down and start gambling.
“What we need are casino-style regulations on FOBTs.”