Gamblers bet billions on county machines

First published in News

Gamblers spent billions of pounds on bookies’ gambling machines in Yorkshire last year, according to latest figures. The lobbying group Campaign for Fairer Gambling estimates that across the region, £3 billion was gambled on fixed odds betting machines (FOBTs).

Although much of the cash put into machines goes back into punters’ pockets, £112 million was lost by gamblers across 770 betting shops.

The group will publish a breakdown by local authority area of the figures next month.

Fairer Gambling, which was founded by inventor of Three Card Poker, Derek Webb, is running a Stop the FOBTs campaign. Mr Webb and partner Hannah O’Donnell say they have retired from commercial activity following a sale of their gambling games to a US company.

Their organisation aims to stop gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, ensure it is conducted in a fair and open way and protect vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited by it.

The group says FOBTs have been a regular feature in the headlines over the last 10 years due to the highly addictive nature of electronic roulette games and has led to them being described as the “crack cocaine of gambling”.

It uses information from bookmakers, including the number of machines and profits, to estimate the amount spent. Group consultant Adrian Parkinson says the figures had been confirmed as being accurate by various bookmaker companies.

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