After a round of back and forth, calls for changes to the British gambling laws, and lobby groups raging against betting shops, someone has finally taken action, as Liverpool City Council has moved to ban fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
These betting terminals have gradually taken over high street betting shops up and down the UK, and gamblers can use their debit cards to bet up to GBP 100 every 20 seconds on the machines, making them a dangerous proposition for problem gamblers. The terminals have gained in popularity recently despite the rise in online casinos in the UK.
So Liverpool have become the first city to make a stand against the machines, with a motion tabled by Councilor Nick Small unanimously backed by the council.
Small expanded on the move, saying: “Over the past few days I’ve been inundated with stories of how Liverpool residents have been affected by gambling machines. People are turning to loan sharks, unable to pay their rent and mortgages because of this.”
There is a precedent set for this move, and it’s not too far away from the UK, too, as Ireland have recently introduced a ban on FOBTs. The Association of British Bookmakers, however, has come out fighting against the move, citing the fact that 700 people are employed in Liverpool’s betting shops. With mobile casinos also on the rise, the industry is under pressure at the moment.
Founder of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, Derek Webb, was supportive of the move, saying: “I commend the action of Liverpool council in demanding a ban or, at the very least, more powers. Betting shops are no longer about traditional race and sports betting, they are now driven by high-speed, high-stake, addictive gaming machines that should have no place on the high street.”