GLASGOW’S licensing board has been branded as a “toothless tiger” amid concerns over its ability to crack down on bookies.

Earlier this year, the UK Government announced plans to lower the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals from £100 to £2.

But it has emerged that the licensing board wouldn’t have the power to enforce the new rules on the terminals, which have been dubbed as the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’.

The board has not received any new applications for betting shops since early 2017 prompting concerns that many of the city’s poorest residents are gambling online.

Despite that, Labour councillor Jim Kavanagh said: “The harsh reality for the low paid of this city they don’t go online. These fixed odds betting machines are like a magnet to them.

“They lose every single penny they’ve got. I’ve got friends who have lost homes and are now on benefits.”

The council is working with the Gambling Commission to highlight the need to change the Gambling Act 2005 to create statutory enforcement powers for local authorities.

But Mr Kavanagh laid into the Commission despite his fellow councillors claiming that the regulatory body is the best hope of bringing about changes to the Act.

He added: “The Gambling Commission is there to protect themselves. If people get banned from one bookmakers the one next door will take the money. It’s a disease.

“The licensing board is a toothless tiger. Until the power is returned this will continue.”

The Gambling Act gives enforcement powers to authorised officers of the licensing authorities. However, in Scotland, the licensing authority is the licensing board which has no officers.

Glasgow City Council does have officers but because the council is a separate legal entity from the licensing board, it has no power to enforce gambling rules.

Mairi Miller, the council’s licensing legal officer, said: “It’s an issue that has been recognised for quite some time.

“The Gambling Commission has issued some guidance on how to approach enforcement, but the fact remains that there is no legal basis for authorities in Scotland to carry out that work.”

Currently, there are around 800 fixed odds betting terminals across 200 shops in the city, with residents losing around £31m a year on the terminals.

Earlier this year council leader Susan Aitken admitted she wants to have the power to ban the machines.

But yesterday, Labour’s Bill Butler insisted that the council should be looking to enforce online regulations.

He said: “The reality is that it’s not so much betting shops that are the problem. It’s online betting that is the big worry. That is barely regulated.

“There is a need for new regulations given the online explosion.”