A new national code of conduct for betting shops has been introduced by the Association of British Bookmakers after suggestions from councillors in Medway.
Machines known as Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) have been causing concern. These allow players to bet on the outcome of various games and events with fixed odds.
A betting slip. Copyright: Thinkstock Image Library
The most commonly played game is roulette and others include bingo, simulated horse racing, greyhound racing and a range of slot machine games. There are around 30 in Medway.
All customers will now see reminders pop up on screen when they have been playing for half an hour or lost £250.
Play will be suspended for 30 seconds and they will be asked whether they would like to continue.
Staff behind the counter will also be alerted when someone has reached the limits and people will be able to exclude themselves.
Council community safety chief Cllr Peter Hicks said: “I am delighted that Medway’s campaign has helped influence the excellent code of conduct to promote responsible gambling.
“In addition, the Medway Responsible Gambling Partnership will ensure local accountability of the gambling trade and also a forum for continuing discussions with the council.”
A partnership between the council and gaming and betting shops will be set up to tackle problem gambling in the Towns.
The Medway Responsible Gambling Partnership meets four times a year and discusses local issues around gambling to come up with ways of fixing problems.
Cllr Vince Maple, Labour group leader, gave the changes a slightly more lukewarm response. He said: “Having something is better than nothing, but I’d like it to go further.”
Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Geoff Juby echoed Cllr Maple’s comments. “Whilst I welcome the code, I do not think it addresses the issue of the concentration of betting shops in deprived areas,” he said.
“If planning laws permitted local councils to limit the number of betting shops in any one area, this would do far more to cut down the use of these establishments by problem gamblers.”