Miliband to crack down on £46bn a year gambling “epidemic”

Ed Miliband is cranking up his attack on controversial high-stake gambling machines in betting shops, promising new laws to control the spread of the machines and their use.

The Labour leader said that fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) deliberately targeted poorer communities and were “dangerously addictive”.

FOBTs are able to take up to £300 a minute from punters, and account for about £1.6bn of the gambling industry’s £3bn in-store revenues this year, according to the research group Mintel.

Speaking to the Mirror, Miliband said: “I am deeply concerned about the spread of these machines. They are becoming an epidemic in some parts of the country.

“They are four times more likely to be in poorer areas than richer areas.

“I don’t object to a betting shop or two on the high street but you don’t want it taken over by them.

“There’s evidence they are magnets for anti-social behaviour. There’s evidence people are getting harmed and becoming addicted to gambling through these machines.

“And that’s why we are going to act.”

Miliband said that the next Labour government would give local authorities the power to control the number of betting shops in their area, and also powers over the number of FOBTs in each shop.

“If communities don’t want them they don’t have to have them,” Miliband added.

Gamblers in the UK spent an incredible £46bn on gambling machines last year. Shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman said: “It’s not just ruining the high street, it’s ruining people’s lives.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Labour betrayed their supporters, solely to bring in more tax, with laws that encouraged binge drinking and gambling, the two main curses of the working classes.They are beyond shame.

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