REVEALED: Millions lost through gambling machines in North Somerset
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For £17million you could buy 50 average-priced homes in North Somerset or probably half of Wayne Rooney, however it is being spent on something a little more risky.
That was almost the amount wagered by people in the district in gambling terminals over one year, with a collective loss of more than £3million.
North Somerset is home to 22 betting shops and houses 80 fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs), which are touch-screen roulette machines found in betting shops across the country. Gamblers can play casino-style games with £100 maximum stake for every spin.
According to the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, North Somerset’s gamblers slotted £16,775,995 into the machines in 2014-2015. In North Somerset, players showed a net loss of £3,355,199.
The Campaign for Fairer Gambling says it is concerned about the sudden popularity of these machines, and is pressing for a reduction in the maximum stake which can be placed in one bet from £100 to just £2.
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Campaign spokesman Matt Zarb-Cousin believes the ability to place large bets every 20 seconds on FOBTs gives rise to more addictive tendencies.
He said: “There’s a massive difference between placing a bet on the football or horse racing compared with a game of roulette.
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“These machines reduce human interaction; people are almost entranced by them once they’re into the zone.”
But the Gambling Commission, which regulates the industry, said: “The Commission’s previous advice to the Government in 2013 was that we had not seen sufficient evidence that a reduction in stakes alone would minimise player harm.
“But we were also clear that if the industry didn’t make real progress in addressing harm then we might in future advise the Government to consider harm reduction measures such as stake reduction on a precautionary basis.”