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Plight of Norwich man who lost thousands gambling prompts fixed odds machine stake slash call

PUBLISHED: 09:11 29 November 2017 | UPDATED: 16:21 29 November 2017

David Armstrong. Pic: Sonya Duncan

David Armstrong. Pic: Sonya Duncan

ARCHANT EASTERN DAILY PRESS (01603) 772434

The maximum stake for fixed odds betting machines should be slashed from £100 to £2, city councillors say, after reading how a Norwich man who lost £15,000 in a single afternoon.

The government is reviewing changes to fixed odds betting machines. Pic: Daniel Hambury/PA WireThe government is reviewing changes to fixed odds betting machines. Pic: Daniel Hambury/PA Wire

And Norwich City Council is also seeking extra powers which would enable them to limit the number of new betting shops which are granted permission and to revoke or reduce existing licences.

Members of the city council tonight agreed their response to a government review which could limit the maximum stake on the betting terminals.

Liberal Democrat councillor Caroline Ackroyd, who represents Eaton, put forward a motion asking the council to call for the stake cut after reading about the plight of David Armstrong in this newspaper.

We reported how the 70-uear-old’s addiction to the high-speed electronic casino games had cost him his home, his job and almost his life.

The former garage owner, who claims to have lost £350,000 in 10 years, ended up living in a garden she near Anglia Square.

Caroline Ackroyd, Liberal Democrat councillor for Eaton. Pic: Archant Library.Caroline Ackroyd, Liberal Democrat councillor for Eaton. Pic: Archant Library.

At present, people can bet up to £100 every 20 seconds on fixed-odds terminals, which are found in high street betting shops.

But a 12-week government consultation could limit the maximum stake per spin to between £2 and £50.

Mrs Ackroyd said: “Few of us can fail to be moved, shocked and alarmed at the plight of David Armstrong.

“There are countless stories of how these machines are fuelling problem gambling - research concludes that more than one ion three fixed odds betting terminal users are problem gamblers.

“We believe that the proposal to cut the stake to £2 is the only sensible solution to bring the machines in line with international norms and to stop vulnerable people losing their life savings in only a couple of hours.

“Gambling regulation is decided at a national level, but the impact is felt by people across the country. Ultimately, the battle is between big business and protecting local communities.

“Councils are not anti-gambling, but a greater balance is needed between commercial freedom and the impact on local communities.”

Labour amended the motion, adding that the council ‘note and castigates the government’s timid and tentative approach to such an important issue”.

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