Hartlepool Borough Council has written to a government minister stressing its concerns over high stakes gambling machines which punters across town wagered more than £56million on in a year.
The authority is calling for a review of the law to give it more control over casino game slot machines in betting shops that let players gamble up to £100 a spin.
The Licensing Committee was concerned as to the impact they could have on the vulnerableCouncillor Trisha Lawton
The council’s licensing committee says there are “serious concerns” over the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs).
Meanwhile, it is estimated that between April 2014 and March 2015, over £56million was gambled on Hartlepool’s 357 FOBTs.
That included over £10million of cash poured into them of which £2.1million was lost.
Concerns were flagged up during a consultation over the policy’s new Licensing Policy which was adopted at a full council meeting.
Councillor Trisha Lawton, vice chair of the Licensing Committee, said: “The consultation highlighted serious concerns with Fixed Odds Betting Terminals which are essentially computerised casino tables and which allow consumers to bet up to £100 per spin.
“Such machines have become extremely popular in betting shops and the Licensing Committee was concerned as to the impact they could have on the vulnerable.
“Fixed Odds Betting Terminals do not fall within the licensing powers of local councils and, as such, their numbers cannot be controlled by their licensing policies but the committee has written to the relevant Government minister expressing its concern and asking for a review of the law relating to these machines and a reduction in the maximum stake that can be placed.”
While local councils grant premises licences for betting shops, they are automatically allowed up to four of touch screen machines which offer casino games such as roulette.
Under the Gambling Act local councils do not have the power to control the number or categories of gaming machines on gambling premises.
The council’s stance is being supported by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling which wants the maximum stake reduced to £2 a spin to bring them in line with all fruit machines found in pubs and arcades.
It estimates of the money lost on the machines in Hartlepool, £845,000 was lost by problem gamblers.
Hartlepool council has to update its Gambling Policy every three years.
Once again, it has agreed not to consider any applications for a casino in Hartlepool as it has since 2007.