Sheffield gamblers lose estimated £12m in addictive gambling machines

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Gamblers lost about £12 million to addictive betting machines in Sheffield last year, a campaign group has said.

The money was lost to fixed-odds betting terminals – high-speed, high stakes gambling machines where people can put stakes of £100 on a single spin.

In Sheffield there are 299 of the machines, which have been described as addictive as crack cocaine.

Adrian Parkinson, consultant for the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, said politicians needed to ‘wake up to the devastating effect’ the machines were having.

He said: “There is a simple and effective way to reduce the harm of these highly-addictive machines without the need for primary legislation – reduce the maximum stake from £100 to £2.”

Former compulsive gambler Matthew Kettell, a dad from north Sheffield, said: “I did go on those machines a few times, they came in just before I quit gambling.

“I spent £3,500 in one in 20 minutes – I lost everything I had on me.

“I’m not anti-gambling now, the industry employs lots of people and gives pleasure to millions, but it would be better if people couldn’t lose as much money as quickly.

“Reducing the maximum stake doesn’t mean people won’t sit on one all day, but it does mean they can’t spend as much money as quickly.”

Sheffield Council has called for action, so it could curb the number of betting machines after figures showed the terminals were concentrated in communities such as Darnall and south-east Sheffield, rather than the more affluent areas of the city such as Hallam.