IN October, the Prime Minister promised to take a ‘proper look’ into the issue of fixed- odds betting machines.

His pledge followed serious concerns about these machines, dubbed the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling, which allow punters to gamble up to £100 every 20 seconds.

East Lancashire punters staked more than £270million on these bandits in 2012.

Labour had demanded tighter controls but it failed to win the support of Coalition rebels.

Despite this defeat, Hyndburn MP Graham Jones, who has voiced strong opposition to the machines, is continuing his campaign to get them banned.

And the borough council is also asking for the power to restrict the bandits.

While certain forms of gambling can be addictive, the issue has to be put into perspective.

Millions of people in this country enjoy having the occasional flutter. How many of us have bought a lottery ticket on a Saturday or placed a bet on the Grand National? And let’s not forget the football scores.

There is no doubt people are getting hooked on fixed-odds fruit machines as gambling charities are being deluged with addicts.

A major report into gambling machines was also published last month by the Responsible Gambling Trust in a bid to mitigate harm among gaming machine players.

The Government needs to deal with the problem and not simply hope it goes away.