A council in Liverpool is demanding that a ban be placed on electronic betting machines this week, claiming that the electronic gaming devices are causing an increase in poverty and crime. Dubbing the electronic gambling units to be “addictive” and calling the activity as addictive as “crack cocaine”, the council is claiming that people are at risk for losing homes and jobs due to the easy access and huge spending limit allowed on these machines.
The gambling industry insists that there is no evidence to back the claim of the council, and is offering to construct a new code of conduct that allows for players to limit the amount they spend on these machines.
This claim comes from the high amount of income players are allowed to spend when using the machines. Most conventional gambling activities have a set limit that a player may spend at a time, and some restrict to buying in with tokens or cash. The electronic machines that have the council concerned, however, allow a player to spend up to £100 in as little as 20 seconds, and allow use of credit and debit cards on the machines.
Several bookmakers have come to depend on these machines, however, with statistics currently showing that 80% of revenue may be coming from this type of gambling, as opposed to the more traditional gambling bets places on sports and horse racing.
The council does not have the backing to ban the machines in Liverpool at the moment, but are currently pushing for the Government to place a ban on the devices, to prevent such easy loss of income. Their records currently indicate that as much as £5.9billion was spent from the beginning of the year through June in 2012.
The Minister of Culture has reviewed the case and thus far refused to take any solid action to ban the machines, claiming there is no clear impact on how reducing use of these machines would impact gambling-related harms to the economy and people’s well-being.