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East Lancashire MPs welcome gambling machine restrictions
PLANS to place restrictions on gambling machines have been welcomed by East Lancashire MPs.
The fixed-odds machines, which often feature casino and virtual racing games, will have payouts capped until 2016.
Bookies will also be forced to draw up a code of conduct which will allow customers to set themselves a limit on how much they are willing to lose.
More than £270m was staked on machines in one year across East Lancashire.
In Blackburn alone, £76m was gambled on 73 machines in 20 betting shops, according to the Campaign for Fairer Gambling.
They said gamblers in Burnley staked £49m, while bookmakers saw £49m gambled in Hyndburn, £38m in Pendle and £19m in the Ribble Valley. And £41m was fed into Darwen and Rossendale machines.
Hyndburn and Haslingden MP Graham Jones, who has voiced concern that people can become addicted to the machines, said: “While any effort to regulate their use is welcome, I feel much more can be done to help local authorities in reducing the numbers by reducing council restrictions on annual licence fees and licensing and planning criteria.
“The government must also reduce the maximum stake to a very small amount.
“These proposals will only be beneficial if there is a commitment from government to make these changes and enforce the code ensuring bookmakers adhere to the regulations.”
The machines, which have been dubbed ‘the crack cocaine of gambling’ allow punters to bet £100 every 20 seconds.
A £500,000, 18-month-long study into gambling machines was launched by the Responsible Gambling Trust in March. The government said it would review the results.
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