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Sheffield family shattered by secret gambling addiction 'delighted' at clampdown on 'crack cocaine' of betting

David Bradford, whose gambling problem landed him behind bars, with his son Adam
David Bradford, whose gambling problem landed him behind bars, with his son Adam
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A Sheffield man whose father's secret gambling addiction landed him behind bars is 'delighted' the maximum stake on fixed odds betting machines is being slashed.

Punters can currently spend £100 every 20 seconds in high street shops on machines known as fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBT), which critics have dubbed the 'crack cocaine of gambling'.

But the Government today announced that the maximum stake would be cut to £2 to protect vulnerable betters facing ruin on the machines, which culture secretary Matt Hancock branded a 'social blight'.

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David Bradford, from Waterthorpe, racked up more than £500,000 in debts but his family only learned of his addiction when he was jailed for fraud after stealing over £50,000 to fund his habit.

The 61-year-old and his son Adam, aged 25, who had long campaigned for FOBT stakes to be reduced, believe the move will help prevent more lives being devastated.

"We are delighted that the Government has finally seen sense on this important issue," they said.

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"No longer will gamblers be able to run into serious trouble on the high street and betting has been restored to a leisure activity.

"It is also pleasing to see consideration given to advertising and the rise of online gambling. However, the measures such as affordability checks will not go far enough to prevent people from the dangers of online betting."

Adam Bradford believes the new gambling regulations should go further, like banning advertising, better monitoring risky online betting patterns and banning the use of credit cards to gamble online.

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The Association of British Bookmakers warned that more than 4,000 high street betting shops could close, with 21,000 jobs going, due to FOBT stakes being slashed.

It claimed the impact on problem gambling was 'far from certain' as the measure would simply shift gamblers, the majority of whom it said do so responsibly, into other forms of betting where there is less human interaction.

William Hill anticipated its annual operating profit would fall by up to £100 million and Ladbrokes owner GVC Holdings said it expected to take a £160m hit in the first year, but Paddy Power Betfair welcomed the Government intervention, saying it had been concerned the machines were damaging the industry's reputation.

Adam Bradford dismissed warnings of job losses as 'industry scare tactics', saying it was unclear how they had been calculated.