Brits spent a staggering £46bn on gambling machines last year

Gamblers in the UK spent an incredible £46bn on gambling machines last year, prompting calls from anti-gambling campaigners and MPs, who have called for tighter regulations.

Bookmakers made a mind-boggling £1.55bn profit from betting machines in the last financial year, an increase of 50% over the last 4 years, according to figures from the Gambling Commission.

In addition, 600,000 children were caught in betting shops last year, and bookies saw their take from fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) rise from 33.9% of turnover to 49.4% since the peak of the recession in 2008.

An almighty £12bn was gambled in William Hill and Ladbrokes’ betting machines in the first half of 2013 alone.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, MP Tom Watson said that fixed-odds machines were “a menace to every high street”.

He said: “The government has it in their power to act. We hope to persuade them this is now an urgent matter.

“David Cameron has voiced his concern about the damaging effects of these high-stakes machines. MPs have the opportunity to send a clear signal that they expect ministers to take a precautionary approach by lowering the stake values from £100 to £2 on this category of machines.”

Meanwhile, shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman has admitted that Labour were wrong to relax gambling laws. Quoted in the Mail, she said: “If we had known then what we know now, we wouldn’t have allowed this. It’s not just ruining the high street, it’s ruining people’s lives.”

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