Last reviewed 2 November 2016

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents the interests of councils in England and Wales, has welcomed news of a government review into gaming machines, warning that they have been linked to acts of aggression and violence within betting shops.

Councillor Simon Blackburn, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, made the comments while responding to the launch of a new government enquiry into gaming machines.

He said, “Councils have long called for a reduction in Fixed Odds Betting Terminal (FOBT) stakes so the announcement by the Government today is a significant step in the right direction.”

He added that councils “up and down the country are worried about the number of high-stakes FOBTs and betting shops” on high streets.

He said, “Someone playing on a machine can lose £100 in a matter of seconds in a single play on an FOBT. This is money many people can’t afford to lose. The machines have also been linked to acts of aggression and violence within betting shops.”

The role of gaming machines in triggering violent behaviour in betting shops was also recently highlighted by Derek Webb of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling. Derek Webb was recently quoted in media reports as saying addictive fixed-odds terminals are making UK betting shops “the most violent and dangerous gambling venues in the world”, with the machines linked to the death of a shop manager and the attempted murder of a female employee.

The government review will examine:

  • the maximum stakes and prizes of gaming machines in licensed premises

  • the number and location of gaming machines in licensed premises

  • social responsibility measures to protect players and communities from gambling-related harm.

Simon Blackburn said, “We are pleased that the review will consider the impact of machines on communities as well as individuals, and urge Government to use it to strengthen powers for councils to address the saturation of betting shops across their communities.”