Betting back on the agenda

Concerns: Coun Bhikhu Patel
Concerns: Coun Bhikhu Patel
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Betting shop bosses met with councillors to discuss fears of fixed odds betting terminals.

Preston Council’s communities scrutiny panel met with representatives from William Hill and Fairer Gambling this week, to raise concerns about the betting industry.

And the panel’s chairman, Coun Bhikhu Patel, said members agreed that action needed to be taken to tackle the “big problem”.

Coun Patel said: “The main concerns people had were that young people were getting addicted to gambling, and the fact it was very easy to gamble away a lot of money.

“And there is nothing to alert the individuals themselves to say the person is getting into difficulty. After a certain stage, you lose so much money you get agitated and angry and put more money in.”

He said the panel was told people could use their debit cards within betting shops to draw out more money. The meeting came after Preston’s 27th betting shop opened its doors.

Coun Patel said: “I think the concern was that people used to bet on horses and dogs, but have now moved to these fixed odds betting terminals.

“The shops make about £900 per machine per week, and they can have four machines in each shop.”

He added that members felt vulnerable people were turning to gambling, in the hopes of making instant cash.

The panel intends to come up with recommendations to tackle the problem at their next meeting.

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