According to an alarming statistics, the FOBTs gamblers in South Yorkshire wagered more than GBP 24 million only in 2013.
The “Fixed odds betting terminals” (FOBT) were introduced in the UK in 2001 and ever since then they have caused numerous problems to the local societies in various counties. The authorities and the gambling opponents are having constant discussions as to what should be the future of these machines, but there is no definite decision yet.
Many critics consider FOBTs as one of the major reasons for the serious problem betting issue in the country and proclaim FOBTs as intruders into the long-established tradition of land based and internet betting in the UK.
The betting addiction, which these machines can cause, is increasing due to the opportunity, which they give. Bettors can gamble up to GBP 100 every 20 seconds, having the possibility to win up to GBP 500.
All these betting facts created the latest FOBTs nickname, namely “the crack cocaine of gambling.”
Serious FOBTs issue in South Yorkshire
More than GBP 24 million was spend on FOBTs in South Yorkshire in 2013
• FOBTs were introduced in the UK in 2001
• The situation in the Doncaster Central constituency is extremely serious with GBP 4,040,475 spent last year
• Local authorities seek more power
After the public announcement about the millions, which were lost on FOBTs in the county last year, serious campaigns started taking place, asking for tighter control on the high street bookies.
The situation got even more serious when a report from the Commission for Fairer Gambling was published, saying that only in the Sheffield Central constituency alone, the estimated loss for 2013 was GBP 3,195,735.
However, the situation in Doncaster Central constituency is even worse. It had the biggest loss at GBP 4,040,475, which is also the second-highest in the whole of Yorkshire.
The major accusation aimed at numerous bookmakers is regarding their bulk buying of empty shops in an attempt to avoid the restrictions imposed by UK gambling laws. Currently, only four betting machines are allowed in one shop.
Lately, the city centre of Sheffield has been increasingly flooded with various betting branches. The most recently one comes from William Hill, which opened up a shop in vacant former clothing store on Division Street. The unfortunate reality is that planning committees are usually powerless to act upon such openings.
The opinion of the local authority
The frightening reality encouraged the Sheffield Council to make new attempt to force the Government to allow more power to local authorities, so that they can classify different betting shops in separate categories.
Council Leigh Bramall, a Cabinet member for business, commented: “Currently there are no clear powers under national planning law which allow us control over where certain licensed premises are sited.”
Paul Blomfield, Sheffield’s Central MP, also supported the council’s opinion: “The Government’s changes to planning rules mean more and more betting shops, payday lenders and pawn brokers can open up on our high streets because landlords can switch the use of their premises without getting planning permission.”
He added: “Councils should be given new planning powers to help stop the spread, and also to give communities a greater say in planning our city centres and helping to shape the local economy.”
“The spread of betting shops is also concerning because terminals have transformed them into mini-casinos.”
List of estimate money spent on FOBTs in 2013 by constituency
Doncaster Central: GBP 4,040,475
Sheffield Central: GBP 3,195,735
Doncaster North: GBP 2,503,072
Rotherham: GBP 2,501,010
Barnsley Central: GBP 2,223,731
Sheffield South East: GBP 2,092,191
Barnsley East: GBP 1,946,833
Wentworth and Dearne: GBP 1,945,230
Brightside and Hillsborough: GBP 1,815,217
Don Valley: GBP 1,811,744
Sheffield Heeley: GBP 1,676,960
Sheffield Hallam: GBP 556,849
Penistone and Stocksbridge: GBP 556,544