The Campaign for Fairer Gambling has collated figures for 2012-2013, which show that in north Lincolnshire, the amount of money that has been bet on fixed odds betting terminals has increased by almost £22 million in just a year. In the Scunthorpe area, there are 74 poker and roulette machines in 20 betting shops and in 2012-2013, over £82 million was spent on them.

Tackling the Problem

In some areas, gamblers have asked betting shops to ban them in a bid to tackle their gambling addiction. BetFred is the biggest bookmaker in north Lincolnshire and the company takes the issue of addiction seriously, with punters able to self-exclude themselves from up to three shops for a period of up to twelve months. Those who do sign these self-exclusion orders need to provide a photo as well as personal details including address, name, and date of birth. These details help staff to recognise the addict and allow them to refuse to serve them. Part of the order means that, if gamblers refuse to leave the betting shop, they will be treated as trespassers.

Not Doing Enough

Although these self-exclusion schemes have been welcomed by some, including Nic Dakin, MP for Scunthorpe, others are not convinced of their effectiveness. Spokesperson for the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, Adrian Parkinson, said that these schemes have been around for almost ten years and are ineffective when it comes to dealing with problem gamblers. He said, “The betting industry in particular has the highest number of exclusions of all the gambling sectors. That is a consequence of them operating the most addictive gambling product in the country – fixed odds betting terminals.” According to Mr Parkinson, 80 per cent of gamblers breach these exclusions. He said the system fails because it relies on the gambler staying out of the betting shops and on the staff being able to recognise them.

Calls for Lower Stakes

Campaigners opposed to fixed odds betting terminals have been calling on the Government to implement laws that would reduce the maximum stake to £2 per spin. However, a spokesperson for the British Association of Bookmakers, Peter Craske, said that a consultation in 2013 held by the Government decided that stakes and prizes should remain unchanged. He also added that the average stake on the machines was only £5.13.

Campaigners are opposed to the terminals as problem gamblers have the opportunity to bet up to £100 every twenty seconds and those with addiction can lose thousands of pounds at a time.

A Devastating Addiction

Any addiction is destructive to both the addict and their family but a gambling addiction can leave a family homeless and can tear apart relationships. Problem gamblers have a compulsion to keep betting even though they may know that it is wrong, and even when they do not have the cash to keep going.

Gamblers will quickly become excellent liars and will try to hide their addiction from those around them. Some will spend money that has been set aside to buy food for the family or for bills and will then need to borrow from others. Many gamblers will continue betting because they think their next spin or bet will be a winning one. This rarely happens and ends up causing more heartache and more debt.

Getting Help

Those with an addiction to gambling need to get help to fight the addiction. Addiction is a mental illness and needs to be treated. At Addiction Helper, we can provide that help. We will speak to you about your problems and will advise and support you through the process of finding a suitable rehabilitation centre.

Source: The Scunthorpe Telegraph 

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