Shock at figures

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HARTLEPOOL MP Iain Wright warned of the problems excessive gambling can cause.

He said he is concerned people could try to gamble their way out of poverty using household money.

“We’ve got to make sure where people do gamble the signs of addiction are spoted early and that people can get help,” he said.

Mr Wright added Hartlepool does not have the problem some towns do with scores of bookies lining the high street.

He said: “It has always been well controlled by the local authority and I hope it continues.”

Easington MP Grahame Morris said he was “shocked” at the £62.7m gambled in his constituency.

He said: “I am shocked at the size, I didn’t think it would be as much as that.

“The danger is punters must be aware they can lose a lot of money very quickly.

“You can just keep going until you are out of money.”

But Mr Morris warned removing the machines from bookies could threaten the viability of local betting shops.

He added: “Individuals can lose large sums on internet gambling sites that are readily accessible via smart phones.

“These are offshore sites and have no benefits in terms of tax revenue or jobs to the local community.

“You need to strike a balance because closing down fixed odds betting terminals in local betting shops won’t stop problem gambling but could reduce the UK based betting industry and the closure of some betting shops.”