FOBT Machine Gambling Starts to get the Publicity it Deserves

SCHOOL kids as young as 16 are gambling illegally in high street bookies, a Sun investigation has revealed.

We sent a team of 16 and 17-year-olds to a dozen shops — and SIX allowed them to use highly addictive gambling machines.

Experts have called the fixed odds betting terminal machines (FOBTs) the “crack cocaine of gambling”. Bosses at branches of Ladbrokes, William Hill, Coral and Paddy Power did not even ask for ID when our youngsters entered their shops.

The law says bookies must demand proof of age and identification from anyone who looks under 18 — and remove those who can’t produce it. Best practice recommends checking anyone who looks under 21. But our teenagers were only asked for ID in six out of the 12 outlets in London.

Renie Anjeh, 16, said: “I went into six shops in a day and I only had my age challenged twice. On one occasion someone asked for my ID so I just said I was 19. They didn’t stop me playing — they just said that I must bring my ID next time.”

FOBTs are mainly rapid high-stakes games such as blackjack and roulette, where you can gamble £100 a time and place a “repeat bet” in seconds.

Critics claim it's possible to lose thousands of pounds an hour on them. Renie, from Lewisham, South East London, said: “It is very easy to see how people get addicted to them. I played card-based games and roulette. None of them was skill-based. The thrill of trying to recover what you’ve lost is what keeps you coming back for more. You dig yourself into a deeper and deeper hole.

“It is very easy to see how people get addicted. At one stage I put £5 in and got 5p back but that was enough to make me carry on. Young people are not supposed to play on them but I think they really appeal to the younger generation.”

The FOBTs were introduced in 2002 and now number tens of thousands across the UK. Bookies are allowed four on their premises. But MPs on the Commons Culture Committee want to increase that to TWENTY for casinos and introduce the machines into arcades. They hope this will stop the so-called “clustering” of gambling outlets on high streets.

Campaigners have slammed the plans as “illogical”.

Following our probe at the London betting shops, Ladbrokes said: “We will fully investigate the cases you raise using our CCTV and take appropriate action where our usual standards have not been upheld.”

Coral told us: “We are disappointed with the example highlighted here and will establish what went wrong to ensure the mistake is not repeated.”

William Hill said: “We are unable to comment on the specifics until we have had the opportunity to investigate thoroughly.’’

Paddy Power added: “We will fully investigate and take any remedial action that is necessary.”

Roulette addiction cost me £16,000

EX-gambler David blew £16,000 on roulette and other machines in bookies’ shops after getting hooked as a schoolboy.

The 22-year-old from Essex said: “I was 16 when I started. I was in school uniform when the bus dropped me down the road from Ladbrokes. I put a tenner in the machine and won. After that I went into a bookie’s shop every day for four years. It was mainly roulette — I liked the thrill. The machines turn people into addicts because they’re so fast and the stakes are so high. It’s a means of escape. You get all the adrenaline of scoring the winner in a cup final. I later got a job at a call centre and blew it all in Ladbrokes. I’d put a grand in from my card. I lost about £16,000 in total, including my student loan. I got over it with expensive therapy. The only way to stop this is to crack down on the machines.”

My View

By JAMES ORFORD, Psychology professor

BETTING firms are making huge profits out of these machines — and are getting the younger generation hooked on their most dangerous products.

Young people have a higher rate of problem gambling — and the unemployed are more likely to develop difficulties. Put these facts together and we could have a new rise of young problem gamblers.

These machines create addiction. The bright lights and flashing colours make them attractive to young people, who are more familiar with virtual games and computers.

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Comments (92)

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  • Shovells Permalink

    Really tough reading all your comments. I was addicted to blackjack on these machines and lost thousands. The thrill of the big win followed by thinking your invincible and losind it all and then some. Splitting and doubling down. I played these machines for 3 years and wasted so much of my life. Haven't touched one now for a year and a half. No magic formula to quit for me. Just will power and thinking of my kids. I hope you can all find the strength to quit.

    about 1 year ago
  • Tornado Permalink

    Theses machines are shocking self excluded my self in my own town but travel out if I want to play them which is harder to do

    about 1 year ago
  • Sam Permalink

    I only play roullete machines and it has rouind my life....rot in he'll who ever involved this in to people's life

    about 1 year ago
  • Billyboy Permalink

    Every single one of these stories I can relate too.. I always justify why do gamble in my head like I'm thinking about it 24/7. The only cure they say is give ur money to someone u can trust but even then you spend hours trying to get that money back to gamble. Iv literally hunted and robbed my own money to gamble it away, I then come home literally talking to myself to not gamble again and then the next day with money in my pocket I'm on the machine saying Fuk it. Then the cycle starts again. It's embarrassing if you think about it that a computer can have you hooked but people never understand who aren't hooked. And you end up hiding a loss of £1000 because u don't want anyone knowing which seems to eat you inside. I lost 900 pounds in half hour yesterday.. The fourth time iv done money in this region within the last week. I say today I will stop and at the moment I feel as though I can. I know it's gonna be a long road but seriously what other options have I got. I would much prefer to have any other addiction because at least then u wouldn't have to hide it from people and there will be limitations to an extent.. With a gambler you actually can lose everything you've earnt and accomplished within the space of a hour on one machine. It's ridiculous how these machines are still existant. However I am determined to stop and my methods are.

    1. Boredom can be your worse enemy. Get a hobby. Keep your mind occupied.

    2. Give money to someone u can trust and tell them to hide the money good. Not leave it on display which has happened to me before.

    3. If your reading this forum you are addicted.. Meaning that the life of gambling is entertainment no more it's a destruction. Any forms of gambling QUIT! Don't feel you can do a football bet or a bet on the horses because this will ignite your appetite and before you know it your sitting there on your own 9 0 clock on a Saturday night 1500 pounds down on a FOBT.

    4. Have reminders on your phone to focus your attention to stop. Keep a diary to how your feeling everyday you don't gamble.

    5. And lastly have faith! You can do it.

    I hope this has helped my fellow companions out there that are fighting the same losing battle. Today is a new YOU.

    about 1 year ago
  • Jason Permalink

    Ban them I been playing them from the start of them turning up in shops I lost too much in debt over them

    about 1 year ago
  • Richard Permalink

    Have a word with your bank, limit your debit card, if you find yourself heading to the bookies think further into the future of that day and know how shit you're going to feel, a good way to settle your fix is to play an online version with fun money and imagine it's real, see how much you can lose no matter how many times you play, start with 50k.

    about 1 year ago
  • Sick off these things lost 4000 in 4 days felt physically sick and end up taking it out on the missus and kids..wish there was real help out there been for help but dosent seem to help me

    about 1 year ago
  • Gary Permalink

    These machines need banned or another idea would be you need a ID card to play and if you wanted to self exclude just destroy your card simple as even when you win on these things they get it back the next day something needs done fast to stop wrecking people lives I know lads who have committed suicide playing theses hey either need scrapped or moved off the high street in to casinos

    about 1 year ago
  • Dave Permalink

    Lost all my money on these things now have to rent boy to pay the rent its horrible what they do to you the high street bookies.

    about 1 year ago
  • Simon Permalink

    I've lost more money than most. But I've still got my family as I've stopped. The main problem is the FOBT are still not regulated. Well they are but only to fill the tax mans chest. The sole and only reason fobt are allowed to operate as they still do

    about 1 year ago

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017
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