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Call to ban betting machines in Hyndburn
11:00am Saturday 21st December 2013 in News
AN East Lancashire council is set to call on the government to ban ‘the crack cocaine of gambling’.
Betting machines, or fixed-odds terminals, which allow punters to spend £100 every 20 seconds on virtual casino and racing games, are causing ‘significant’ problems, said a motion document will be put before Hyndburn Council.
The move has been backed by Haslingden and Hyndburn MP Graham Jones, and the Bishop of Burnley John Goddard.
The motion, which will be put forward by a senior councillor in the controlling Labour group, said: “This council believes that the increase ... is causing significant problems and believes that the government should use the exisiting legislative framework, or introduce legislation to outlaw casino games in betting shops.
“At the very least, local authorities should be given powers to protect the local amenity and wellbeing of communities by stopping the proliferation of betting shops, and reducing the maximum stakes, and slowing down the speed of play.”
If the motion is agreed at a council meeting on January 23, the chief executive will write to the government to demand ‘urgent action’.
Chief executive David Welsby would also ask the government to look at reducing the maximum stake from £100 to £2 per spin.
Punters in East Lancashire spent more than £270m on the machines - dubbed the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’ - last year, according to the Campaign for Fairer Gambling.
Labour MP for Haslingden and Hyndburn, Graham Jones, has long campaigned against the machines, and recently launched a petition calling for them to be restricted.
And Labour leader Ed Miliband said yesterday he will ban the machines if he wins the next election.
Mr Jones said: “[Labour MP] Tom Watson and I have led the campaign against these pernicious machines, which prey on vulnerable people.
“There’s no enjoyment in losing hundreds of pounds in minutes on these machines, which are prevalent.”
The Bishop of Burnley, The Rt Revd John Goddard said: “Moderate, careful, self-controlled betting may be appropriate.
“I personally do not bet, apart from on the church raffle.
“However, I do have concerns where the spending on betting machines can become out of control, and people find themselves in great difficulties.
“I think that needs better control.”
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