Jim Fitzpatrick: We must have power over betting machines and the location of bookies

By Jim Fitzpatrick

jimELECT.JPGI know many families and communities are concerned about the impact of Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) - gaming machines on which people can bet as much as £100 every 20 seconds - on our high streets.

Recently, the shadow frontbench called an Opposition Day debate on this in the House of Commons.

There is clear evidence FOBTs are causing problems in local communities and that betting shops with the machines are often clustered in close proximity to one another or close to deprived areas.

This can have a serious impact on other local businesses and lead to concerns about anti-social behaviour.

One in three calls to the gambling hotline are also about these machines and critics have argued their high-speed nature makes them particularly addictive.

I believe local communities should be able to act in response to concerns about these machines and that local authorities should have the power to deal with their growth and the number of betting shops in our high streets.

In order to reduce the harm these machines can cause, measures should also be introduced to slow the rate of play and to interrupt players when they have been playing for long periods.

That is why I supported the shadow frontbench motion calling on the Government to take precisely this action.

Unfortunately, though, the Government rejected this motion

■ Jim Fitzpatrick is MP for Poplar and Limehouse


Jimmy Fitz fibbing again said:

This is a joke isn't it? The last Labour government passed legislation which allowed these awful betting shops to spring up all over the place.

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