Shocking figures have revealed that almost £12m was lost on betting machines in the region last year.

A total of 20,328 people in Kirklees and Calderdale flushed an average of £576 on one of around 300 fixed odds betting machines known to be in operation in the area.

Presented by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling to the House of Commons, the data also showed that customers placed £43 million into the terminals.

The figures provoked Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman to call the machines a ‘cancer on society’ and called for the abolition of betting shops in which they are played.

According to the data, use of the machines was more prolific in Kirklees, where customers lost an average of £600 each and a total of £8,210.093.

56 betting shops are now in operation in the area whilst 25 exist in Calderdale.

The data was released as part of the group’s ongoing campaign to toughen legislation on the machines, which they refer to as the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’.

A fixed odds betting terminal is a machine normally found in betting shops that allows players to bet on the outcome of various games and events with fixed odds. They were introduced to UK shops in 2001 and feature games like roulette, bingo, simulated horseracing and greyhound racing.

 

The minimum stake is £1 and the maximum payout is £500.

Mr Sheerman, who has already asked parliament for greater powers for councils to turn down applications for betting premises, said: “Betting machines are a cancer on society.

“They are especially prevalent in towns and cities with the greatest level of deprivation, which is disgusting.

“If you were to back me into a corner I would like to close them down.

“I think betting shops were made for sports but have since gone mad without being properly regulated.

“We at least need strict regulation on how they operate and think a royal commission should be established on gambling

because we never had a proper debate on whether we want them in our towns.

“You only have to look at the amount of money flowing out of our towns through them to see what damage they are doing.

The study said that a total of £1.6 billion was lost in the UK to the machines, with London, the South East and the North West suffering the highest losses.

Halifax’s Basement Project addiction therapist Madeline Small said that more also needed to be done to encourage gambling to be treated as an addiction.

She said: “There are a few self help groups in the area but there need to be more to help people realise that gambling is an addiction that needs treatment.”

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