‘Machines can be very addictive’

Terminals in a bookmakers.
Terminals in a bookmakers.

Betting shops in North Kirklees made almost £3m on high stake gambling machines in one year.

Figures released by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling show touch screen roulette machines brought in £2.9m between October 2011 and last September for high street bookies in the Batley and Spen and Dewsbury constituencies.

The campaign group is calling for the high-stakes machines, known as fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) to be taken off the high street because of the growing problem of gambling addiction.

Adrian Parkinson, campaign spokesman and industry whistleblower, said: “The machines in pubs and bingo halls are £2 a spin. But these other machines are up to £100 a spin. We are campaigning for these to be capped at £2.

“Each spin takes 20 seconds, whereas in a casino in can take up to four minutes.”

Mr Parkinson said the speed and high stakes made the machines very addictive – and figures showed almost half of users had a gambling problem.

He said: “Research has revealed about 23 per cent of the revenue from these machines comes from pathologically addicted players, who have to play every day. Then there are people who could be at risk of becoming pathologically addicted.”

Mr Parkinson said 40 per cent of the FOBTs’ revenue came from these two groups – meaning £1.2m of the profit in Batley and Spen and Dewsbury parliamentary constituencies came from people at risk of or with a gambling addiction.

He added: “We want the government to address this.”

But George Carrigill, who owns a chain of bookmakers’ shops in North Kirklees, said figures could not always be trusted.

He said: “Bookmakers do win from the machines but they have a return of about 2.65 per cent of what is spun.

“That is a wonderful return for anyone who goes into any betting shop.”

He said people living in the area did not tend to bet big amounts on these machines.

He said: “In our neck of the woods people don’t spin huge amounts of money, they just put £2 or £ in.

“It can be addictive, there is no doubt about it.

“But a lot of other things can be addictive, such as drinking and smoking, and gambling on horses or dogs.”

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