Ipswich: Recovering gambling addict calls for “highly addictive” casino machines to be banned

Fixed odds gambling machines

Fixed odds gambling machines - Credit: Archant

A RECOVERING gambling addict has today called for betting shop casino machines – dubbed the “crack cocaine of gambling” – to be outlawed after it emerged punters in the town lost an estimated £2.3million playing them in one year.

In Tuesday’s Star the Campaign for Fairer Gambling warned of the dangers – estimating 73 in Ipswich netted an average profit of more than £32,000 each last year.

The report, which relates to the 2011/12 financial year, claims the turnover was a staggering £75m.

They said the high stakes, maximum £100 and short spin cycles of two seconds make the games highly addictive – a claim echoed by the recovering addict.

Consumed by his addiction, firmly held in its tight grasp, the 24-year-old frittered away £18,000 last year – more than half his salary.

The former addict, who is from the Ipswich area and asked not to be named, said he first played on fixed odds betting terminal (FOBT) machines, which offer games including roulette, bingo and simulated horse racing, when he was 19 years old.

“I was spending all the money I had access to on the machines,” he said.

Most Read

“It was a couple of years before I admitted to myself that I had a problem.”

He said the 97% pay out rate makes the games “compelling”.

“You could walk in with £50 and walk out with £400 to £500 in a matter of minutes,” he added. “It is scary how addictive that can be. But in the same time you could lose the same amount.

“I lost about £18,000 last year – it feels terrible, really horrible to say that out loud.

“It is only in the last three months that I have realised I have a problem.

“I was finding everyday problems at work or home, any arguments I had with my mates and I was turning to the machines, spending hours down the bookies.

“If you win, you feel great and you play for longer, it is an emotional escape.”

He said one of the key problems is that whereas when you withdraw money from a hole in the wall there is a daily limit, he was able to buy vouchers worth £500 sometimes more than once, in one day.

“These machines need to be banned,” he added eight weeks after last succumbing to the temptation to play.

“I would get rid of them altogether.

“And I think, like with cigarettes, warnings should be displayed in all bookies with advice and support available to those who fear they might have a problem.”