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Campaigners call on Government to crackdown on high-stakes gambling
More than £263million has been poured into gambling machines in Harrow’s betting shops, according to campaigners calling for Government action.
The Campaign for Fairer Gambling has released figures showing the amount spent on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) in every constituency in the UK.
FOBTs are betting machines found in bookmakers at which it is possible for a user to bet up to £100 every 20 seconds.
The campaign estimates the total bet at the machines in West Harrow between April 2011 and March 2012 was £149,669,025, while the amount for the same period in East Harrow was £113,841,695.
The group calls the machines the “crack cocaine of gambling.”
In May 2012 there were an estimated 44 betting shops in Harrow with a total of 162 FOBTs.
The campaign is calling for the Government to reduce the maximum stake which can be bet on these betting machines from £100 to £2 and for laws to slow the rate of betting at terminals.
The Campaign for Fairer Gambling says the best way to stop the clustering of betting shops, which it says rely on FOBTs to survive, is to reduce the gaming content and amount allowed in bookies.
These recommendations also hope to make the machines less addictive and create fewer problem gamblers.
The mapping of the use of these machines in every parliamentary constituency in the UK was carried out by mapping and analysis firm Geofutures, based on data from the Gambling Commission.
Gareth Thomas, MP for Harrow West, said: “Whilst I have not had any complaints it is something that we need to be keeping under review.”