Date: 31/01/2013 Category: Legal and Property Services
Medway Council is inviting owners of local licensed gaming premises to help draw up a voluntary code on gambling.
The move follows a meeting with the Gambling Commission over concerns about ‘highly addictive’ fixed odds betting terminals.
At that meeting, which took place on Thursday, 31 January, Cllrs Mike O’Brien, Vince Maple, Geoff Juby, Diane Chambers and David Carr discussed the issue with Rob Burkett, the National Policy Development Manager of the Gambling Commission.
Fixed odds betting terminals, which have been dubbed the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’, allow punters to play a variety of different gambling games – the most popular being roulette.
The time between spins of the roulette wheel is about 20 seconds and it is possible to bet up to £100 a time – or up to £18,000 an hour.
There are around 30 fixed odds betting terminals spread across Medway.
Following advice from the Gambling Commission during today’s meeting, Medway Council now aims to work with betting shops, bingo halls, licensed amusement arcades and others to set up a voluntary code.
The council will also contact other local authority areas that have voiced similar concerns about fixed odds betting terminals to see what they have done over the issue.
Councillor Mike O’Brien, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Customer Contact, said: ‘We are very concerned that these highly addictive machines can leave local residents in serious financial trouble very quickly.
“After a very informative meeting with the Gambling Commission, and useful advice from them on this matter, we are now seeking to set up a voluntary code across Medway.
“We shall be writing to all licensed gaming premises to invite them to meet with us and to help achieve this.
“This meeting and the action we are taking is supported by all groups on the council and we are seeking to work together on this important issue.”
Cllr Vince Maple, Leader of Medway Council’s Labour Group, said: “The meeting today was a welcome first step in moving the issue of problem gambling forward.
“I am grateful to the Gambling Commission for their advice and guidance, which included some other examples of councils taking different approaches to this issue - these examples may well be things which Medway Council can learn from.
“Residents who have contacted me previously have highlighted that the impacts of these Fixed Odds Betting machines, which many refer to as the "crack cocaine of gambling", are having a real and present impact on our community in Medway.
“I hope that the next step of inviting gambling establishment operators to meet with us on a cross party basis to create a voluntary code for Medway, ensuring our most vulnerable residents are protected, moves the situation in the right direction."
Cllr Geoff Juby, the Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, said: “I am pleased that the Gambling Commission met with us and I found their advice helpful.
“We shall now seek to work to set up a voluntary code with local licensed gaming premises across Medway."