Curbs on gambling vote lost

HARTLEPOOL MP Iain Wright said he is disappointed after his Labour party lost a Commons vote for stricter controls on high-stakes gambling machines.

Mr Wright supported a motion calling for local councils to be given the power to limit the numbers of fixed odds betting terminals which allow gamblers to stake up to £300 a minute.

But MPs voted against the proposals by a majority of 82.

Mr Wright said afterwards: “I’m disappointed because during Prime Minister’s Question Time, David Cameron said some quite positive words about how they were a concern.

“But those words tended to evaporate when it came to actions six hours later.”

Mr Cameron said research into the machines, dubbed the “crack cocaine” of gambling, was ongoing and he would act if needed.

Mr Wright added: “When it comes to these machines that use technology and psychology to hook people in, you can spend an awful lot of money in a very short period and without really thinking, and that really needs looking at.

“We are not talking about banning them, but hopefully restricting their use and widespread location in betting shops.”

But Mr Wright added Hartlepool has not seen the levels of “clustering” of betting shops that other places have.

Last year, the Mail reported how Hartlepool gamblers staked an estimated £78m on the virtual casino games, between April 2011 and March 2012.