CAMPAIGN groups have called for Westminster to regulate “crack cocaine” gambling machines after a Holyrood report found they should be banned from the high street.
The report, published today by the local government and regeneration committee, looked into the use of fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), which are common in bookmakers across Scotland.
The terminals allow gamblers to bet up to £100 a time on slot machine simulators and games such as blackjack, roulette and bingo.
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Kevin Stewart, convenor of the committee, said MSPs were shocked at the findings about the machines, sometimes referred to as the "crack cocaine" of gambling, and were told they were unsuitable for the unsupervised environment of a bookmakers shop.
Gambling campaign and support groups backed the committee’s findings, but acknowledged that the Scottish Parliament does not currently have the powers to control betting shops.
Even with the powers outlined in the Scotland Bill, Holyrood would still only be able to impose restrictions on future betting shops, not on FOTBs in existing shops.
Simon Perfitt of Rethink Gambling said: “We welcome the Scottish parliamentary committee’s conclusion that these harmful and addictive machines should be removed from the high street.
“Bookmakers say that they have 'responsible gambling' interventions and a code of practice in place, but consumers tell us they are ineffective.”
Fellow campaign group Fairer Gambling said restrictions must also be placed on the amount that can be gambled at one time.
Supporting moves by councils south of the Border to restrict the machines, Adrian Parkinson of Fairer Gambling said: “The solution is to reduce the harm these machines cause by reducing the stakes.
“It’s no coincidence that Newham council has resubmitted its call, backed by 93 other councils, for the Westminster Government to cut the stakes to £2 per spin.”