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Chatham gambler 'smashed up machines' at bookmakers

By Medway Messenger reporter

A gambler is said to have walked into two bookies and smashed up betting machines with a hammer.

The incident has prompted a self-confessed gambler to claim gaming machines in the Towns are driving people to desperate measures.

Fixed odds betting terminals called the 'crack cocaine' of gambling
Fixed odds betting terminals called the 'crack cocaine' of gambling

Eddy Cooney, 73, who lives in Brompton, spends much of his spare time in the bookies, mainly to meet friends.

He understands the man, believed to be in his 50s, took the hammer to the machines at William Hill and Corals in Military Road after losing heavily.

Mr Cooney said: “I gather he wouldn’t normally do this sort of thing but got so frustrated trying to win his money back.”

Police confirmed they were called to Corals on Friday, March 21, to calls of a “distressed” man who was ordered to leave the area. They received no reports of criminal damage and plan to take no further action.

The incident follows one in Gravesend a week earlier when a man became aggressive and smashed up a gaming machine – causing £15,000 damage.

The man went into a bookmakers in King Street, Gravesend, and when a machine developed a fault he reported it to staff, but became aggressive when they investigated the problem. He then reportedly smashed up one of the machines.

Mr Cooney said he started gambling to meet friends after he left work and following his divorce. He said: “Fortunately, I know when to walk away, but some don’t and others feel they can’t once they get started and dig themselves bigger holes.

“I stood next to one guy who lost over £2,000 on a machine in less than 10 minutes.”

Medway Council’s Labour group leader Cllr Vince Maple has been leading a campaign to get fixed odds betting terminals banned from bookmakers in the Town. He said: “This is clearly a very shocking incident.”

Neither bookmaker would comment.

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