Gamblers put £200m in machines

Gamblers in Scotland’s biggest city are spending more than £200 million every year on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

More than £500,000 is put into about 800 machines in just over 200 betting shops every day, a council study found.

Punters typically stake more than £12 on each spin on FOBTs, which are used to play roulette and other games.

Glasgow city council’s cross-party sounding board study is believed to be the first in Britain to attempt to gauge the effect that high-speed, high-stake gambling machines have on a city.

It stops short of calling for a ban on FOBTs, but recommends a new approach to regulating gaming. It urges regulators to commission detailed independent research to establish the impact of allowing casino-style gambling on the high street.

Paul Rooney, who chairs the sounding board and is Glasgow’s city treasurer, said: “I’m not against gambling but the industry is regulated for a reason — to ensure that when gambling takes place in our communities it is within a safe, sustainable and responsible environment. In the case of fixed-odds betting terminals, that principle has failed.”

The machines were introduced in Britain, unregulated, early this century and were eventually classified as category B2 gambling terminals in 2005, when ministers introduced a limit of four terminals per premises.

The games do not give gamblers the opportunity to apply any degree of skill in their play, with wins and losses resting entirely on chance.

The report will go before councillors next week.