Rise of the machines: Are fixed odds betting terminals the new crack cocaine?

Neil Goulden, Chairman, Association of British Bookmakers

Anthony Jennens, Chairman, Gamcare

Christopher Snowdon, Head of the IEA Lifestyle Economics

Tom Greatrex MP

Eugene Farrar,

While many businesses continue to struggle, one industry has weathered the economic storm better than most. The traditionally recession-proof bookmaking industry has moved out of the backstreets and onto the high streets, aided by lower rents and the popularity of a new breed of gambling machines.

Critics have complained that bookies are ‘clustering’ in working class neighbourhoods and are saturating the market with ‘Fixed Odds Betting Terminals’. But are these machines really the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’, or is this another moral panic in the mould of the scares about ‘supercasinos’ and internet gaming?

Are Britain’s high streets being overrun with betting shops and, if so, should the government launch a crackdown – or allow the market to decide?