Bookmakers question £18,000 an hour loss

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THE Association of British Bookmakers questioned the accuracy of the figures released by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling.

It hit back at suggestions anyone could lose £18,000 in an hour on the fixed odds betting terminals which allow punters to stake up to £100 in 20 seconds.

They also explained how the machines pay out most of what punters put in and denied claims bookmakers target deprived areas by opening clusters of shops which carry the machines.

A spokesman said: “Electronic gaming machines in betting shops return 97 per cent to the player, which means the real figure is most probably three per cent of what is being claimed.

“While it is accurate that the industry generates profits of around £1.4billion on all machine games (including slot machines), the claim that £5.6billion was spent on machines in the 50 most deprived areas in the UK last year is simply false.

“The average spend by a player is around £10 and most people play for about 20 minutes at a time.

“The only way someone could lose £18,000 an hour is if they put £100 into a machine every 20 seconds and lost every single game.

“There is more chance of winning the National Lottery for three consecutive weeks than that happening.

“Only four per cent of the UK population gambles using an electronic gaming machine in a betting shop, and the majority of players are in full time work and have formal qualifications from A-levels to degrees.

“This is all set out in the Gambling Prevalence Survey, published by the Gambling Commission, which has shown consistently for over 10 years that the number of problem gamblers is fewer than one per cent of the population and that fixed odds betting terminals are one of the lowest used gambling products.

“It is wrong to claim betting shops target specific areas.

“Like all retailers, betting shops open where there is demand, and of course there are more betting shops in areas of high population than low, just as there are more newsagents or fast food outlets or any other retail business.”