FIXED Odds Betting Terminals dubbed the “crack cocaine of gambling” should be banned from bookies MSP have said.
The strong condemnation of the machines, which can see punters loss £300 a minute, comes after an inquiry which heard from gamblers and betting shop owners.
The Scottish Parliament Local Government committee has called for both Scottish and UK Governments to order independent research into the dangers of the machines.
Glasgow City Council has led calls for research and it now has the backing of the committee.
Committee convener, Kevin Stewart MSP, said the evidence it heard was “shocking” and it agreed that councils should be given power to limit the numbers in their communities.
Mr Stewart said: “We believe that the maximum stake of £100 per game and ability to play 3 games per minute mean FOBTs are a form of hard gambling and must, therefore, be banned from the high street.”
FOBTs were only introduced to betting shops in 2001, with roulette machines the most common. Others like bingo and simulated horse and greyhound racing are also in shops.
Mr Stewart added: “Our Committee has been shocked by some of the evidence it has received about FOBT machines.
“We have heard how quickly and easily players can become addicted and lose hundreds, sometimes thousands, of pounds.
“The casino industry told us these machines are a form of hard gambling and unsuitable for the unsupervised environment of a bookmaker’s shop.”
In its report it concluded a ban was a suitable option.
The report stated: “Notwithstanding only having undertaken a short inquiry, we are of the opinion that FOBTs are a particularly addictive gambling product and we can see a strong case for arguing that FOBTs should be banned from licensed betting premises.”
It called on the betting industry to support problem gamblers and use technology to identify harmful patterns of play.
The Scotland Bill proposes to allow councils to limit the number of FOBTs in new licensed premises, but given the high number that exist already it decided that the new powers would not be enough to tackle the existing problem.
Glasgow City Council said there are almost 850 of the machines in city betting shops at present.
The committee heard there are 421 FOBTs in betting shops in Edinburgh, 320 in North Lanarkshire and 316 in South Lanarkshire. There are 10 FOBT machines in the 14 casinos in Scotland.