£30m is spent on gaming machines

FIXED-ODDS gaming machines, which can swallow £300 a minute, take around £30million from Glasgow's economy every year.

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City councillors are so worried about the impact of the terminals they have agreed to lobby the Scottish Govern-ment to look at curbing the concentration of gambling and payday lending premises.

And they have called on the UK Government to reduce the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals.

Last year, Glasgow City Council carried out a detailed study of the impact of payday loans on the city.

City Treasurer Paul Rooney said: "Our findings were staggering. The city is borrow-ing £57m in payday loans and more than 100,000 Glaswegians are reliant on these high-cost loans."

The councillor said the investigation threw up the link between high-interest loans and fast, expensive gambling.

He said: "We learned lenders and betting shops cluster together in our high streets taking over banks, insurers, GPs and dental surgeries.

"In my own ward, Knights-wood shopping centre has three bookmakers and two payday lenders all in one row of shops. We learned customers move between the two, borrow-ing quick cash to make bets, sometimes several times a day.

"Our report highlights as many as one in 10 payday loans in the city are used for gambling.

"We learned the way to lose that sort of money was by playing fixed-odds betting terminals - a kind of super-charged fruit machine that will let you stake £100 on the push of a button every 20 seconds."

Mr Rooney said the research showed regular gamblers develop problems when they start to use the machines.

He added: "For someone experiencing a gambling prob-lem, these innocuous looking terminals pose exceptional risks. They take your money at incredible speed - faster than betting on football, horse racing, even than high-rolling casino table games."

The fact each bookie is limited to only four machines is the reason for the "epidemic" of bookmakers, said Mr Rooney, giving Glasgow more shops per head of population than anywhere else in Britain, leading to "misery".

He added: "We must under-stand better what that means for Glasgow and need to ask governments in Edinburgh and London to play their part.

vivienne.nicoll@eveningtimes.co.uk

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