Political Correspondent

GLASGOW City Council is being asked to back calls to ban bookies shops having betting machines branded the “crack cocaine of gambling.”

The fixed odds betting terminals which can see £300 staked in a minute have been blamed for adding to problem gambling.

The Evening Time this week reported on the number of machines in betting shops in some of the poorest communities of Glasgow and around Central Station in the city centre.

We highlighted the ten betting shops just yards from the station and the forty FOBTs they contain.

Norman Macleod, SNP Pollokshields councillor, has called for the council to have greater powers to curb the number of FOBTs.

Mr Macleod said he was concerned about the effect on people and communities of the machines and wants the council to respond to the UK Government consultation on gambling and make its views known.

His motions states that FOBTs should no longer be permitted in licensed betting office in Glasgow and he called for greater powers to allow the licensing boards to take into consideration levels of existing provision when considering applications for any new shops.

He also called for the maximum sake to be greatly reduced.

He states: “The maximum permitted stake on an FOBT should be reduced from its present level of £100 to £2.”

The Evening Times reported how there was cases of two betting shops from the same company within yards of each other in the city centre and in the poorest communities.

Directly around Central station within a few minutes walk of each other there are five Ladbrokes.

In Saracen Street, Possilpark there are two William Hills just 110 metres apart and In Springburn Way another two lest 0.3miles apart.

The betting industry said

A spokesman for the Association of British Bookmakers said betting shops are valuable to the local economy.

He said: “At this time of uncertainty for the retail sector, betting shops continue to make a significant contribution to the city’s economy and retail mix, supporting almost 1,100 jobs and contributing around £24 million in taxes, including £2 million in business rates.

“Those who call for a curb on bookies need to explain where the alternative jobs and rates are going to come from in such a challenging retail climate.”

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: “Fundamental questions remain about Fixed Odds Betting Terminals and their proliferation.

“Meanwhile, there remains a disturbing lack of solid, independent research on the combined effect of high-speed play, variable stakes and very large prizes, particularly in terms of problem gambling.”