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Council is set to tackle the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’

Gambling pledge: Councillors Drew Gale, above, and Brian Rollo, below, want to tackle fixed odds betting terminals

Gambling pledge: Councillors Drew Gale, above, and Brian Rollo, below, want to tackle fixed odds betting terminals

Town hall bosses are demanding urgent action from the government against fixed odds betting terminals.

At a meeting of Preston Council, members unanimously agreed to attempt to tackle the “crack cocaine of gambling.”

Speaking at the public meeting, Coun Brian Rollo called on councillors to complain to central government, and stressed the need for a separate use class for betting shops.

Coun Rollo said: “I’ve got no objection to people spending, within their means, an amount on gambling and getting benefit from it - it’s a historic past time.”

But referring to fixed odds betting machines, or B2 gaming machines, he said: “It’s called the crack cocaine of gambling because people do get addicted to it.

“They sit there pressing the button every 20 seconds. We don’t have the powers on licencing, if someone asks for one it is difficult to prove they are doing something wrong, and planning permission is far too easy to get.

“So we are asking council to complain to central government.”

Members also agreed that bosses would write to the secretary of state for communities and local government, stressing the need for a separate use class for betting shops.

They also requested that the cabinet member for planning and regulation, Coun John Swindells, report back on other appropriate steps that could be taken to reduce the problem in Preston.

Coun Drew Gale, seconding the notice of motion, said: “This is something totally different to a flutter on the gee-gees. The rate at which people can lose money is obscene.

“These machines ruin lives, we have to do something - the government needs to legislate against them.”

Coun Michael Lavalette said the council should also try to support people who got into difficulties. He said: “I think it’s almost impossible to regulate this in that way.

“But if we were to think about how we can support people with gambling addictions, that’s certainly something positive to come out of it.”

Councillors also asked that the issue be discussed at scrutiny panel.

 

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