CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Roulette machines: £2 bet limit backed for ‘bookmakers mile’

More than £2 million was lost on 'fixed odds betting terminals' on the Kilburn High Road in just 12 months

02 November, 2017 — By Richard Osley

Roulette has moved from casinos to machines in betting shops [PIC: Frank Heinz]

A POTENTIAL move by the government to limit the losses gamblers can suffer on betting shop machines is set to get a cross-party welcome in Camden, where in one road alone more than £2million was lost in a single year.

Kilburn High Road gained the unwanted nickname of the “bookmakers mile” after an influx of betting shops – eight in the stretch between Brondesbury and Kilburn stations – and analysis which suggested huge figures were being gambled away on computerised roulette.

The street also has four gambling arcades, leading to fears the number of bookmakers and pawn shops are holding back the prospect of new life being breathed into one of north London’s busiest streets.

The machines, known as fixed odds betting terminals, are top earners for the bookies but there is a limit of four per store. To get more machines up and running, it has often been suggested that operators simply open more stores. On Tuesday, the government opened up a consultation survey on a proposal to cut maximum stakes on the machines from £100 a spin to potentially just £2 – and Camden Council said it would respond by endorsing the idea of lower limits.

Kilburn ward councillor Maryam Eslamdoust said: “The government needs to stop dilly-dallying with consultations and take firm action now to reduce the stakes on these exploitative and often addictive machines. No one is objecting to people having the odd flutter if they want to, but many of our high roads find themselves deluged with multiple branches of the same betting shop chains, just so they can push more of these machines on us.”

She added: “It is not a coincidence that the industry chooses to cluster deprived areas where they prey on vulnerable gamblers.”

Gambling charities have warned of the addictive nature and the ease whereby large sums can be wagered – and lost – every 20 seconds.

The Campaign For Fairer Gambling said more than £2million had been lost over 12 months in Kilburn High Road, according to figures they had received from the Gambling Commission. This puts it in top ten worst-affected streets in London.

Camden Council said it had identified areas where issues with gambling were concentrated and would publish its findings later this month before a meeting of councillors. The review will look at potential for the cap to be set at £20, £30 or £50.

Conservative leader Councillor Claire-Louise Leyland said: “We know that some of our most vulnerable families struggle to manage the negative effect of gambling on fixed odds terminals. “We’re so pleased that the government has understood how important an issue this is and is now consulting on reducing the maximum stakes and prizes. We look forward to seeing the results of consultation.”

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