A YouGov poll has revealed that three in four voters would like to see a ban on high street gambling machines that allow punters to stake £100 a spin.
The poll was undertaken by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling and comes at a time when David Cameron is expected to recommend new restrictions on gambling limits and numerous outlets opening in close proximity.
Known as Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), these roulette-themed machines have come under attack from various sources for their placement in high street betting shops, often two at a time.
Terminate the betting terminal?
Currently, there are 33,000 terminals in betting shops across the country and it is not uncommon for bookmakers to double up on the high street with two or three outlets.
There are also concerns that these stores tend to open in lower income areas, causing anger over an alleged 'mini-Vegas environment,' preying on pay packets and leading to the machines being referred to as being as addictive as “crack cocaine” .
Now it seems three quarters of the public are suitably concerned enough to want to see a limit placed on the machines, with more than half of those questioned advocating a total ban.
The poll shows that forty-eight percent believe the terminals should not be allowed in betting shops and seventy three percent would like to see a limit placed on the maximum stake, currently £100.
Sixty percent believe that a £2 maximum wager would be a more suitable and less damaging bet, while a mere six percent believed the current limit suitable.
A dangerous game?
FOBTs have been blamed for a rise in problematic gambling addiction and have linked to money laundering but, for bookmakers, the terminals have proven to be a huge commercial success, now accounting for around a half of a betting shop’s profits .
Ladbrokes alone took £1bn from the terminals in just a month.
It was understood that bookmakers were planing to act on the findings of an internal report, due at the end of the year, and commissioned by the Responsible Gambling Trust , an industry funded organisation.
Previously, The Association of British Bookmakers had pledged to introduce a voluntary code, a means of self-regulation, to combat the issue without compromising their revenue.
Only thirteen percent of those polled believe this will be an effective solution.
Analysing the results, The Campaign for Fairer Gambling said “We have known for some time that FOBTs are a concern for the electorate, but this polling has converted our knowledge into cold, hard facts.
"That seventy percent want to see these addictive machines curbed is something the Government should not ignore. The Prime Minister has a clear choice: listen to voters or cave in to the Bookmakers”.
In an interview with RightCasino.com, GamCare co-founder and addiction specialist Dr Mark Griffiths pointed out that FOBTs that are not inherently addictive. However, he agreed that their "structural characteristics" (high-stake, high-frequency betting) might stimulate problem play.