Tough action against betting machines is being urged after it emerged that gamblers in Lanarkshire have lost nearly £180 million in eight years.
Motherwell and Wishaw MSP Clare Adamson described figures from the Campaign for Fairer Gambling as “incredibly concerning”.
In 2015/16 alone more than £26 million was gambled away in the county on the fixed odds betting terminals.
SNP MSP Ms Adamson said responsibililty for the issue rests with the UK Government and called for action. She wants a cut in the number of machines allowed in betting shops, a limit on the stakes that can be bet and a reduction in the time that can be spent gambling on them.
Ms Adamson is also suggesting a blanket ban on the machines if things don’t improve. She said: “These are incredibly concerning figures which show the Tory Government cannot continue to ignore this issue that is having such a negative impact on our communities.
“People across North Lanarkshire lost out to the tune of almost £90 million since 2008 — and £13.2 million in 2015/16 alone. This is a huge problem and the UK Government needs to get serious about tackling it.
“FOBTs are so addictive they’re known as the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’. It’s no wonder given how much people have lost out from using these toxic machines.”
The Government has said it will carry out a review of the machines and of gambling advertising in the autumn.
However, the Association of British Bookmakers said setting stake limits could lead to thousands of betting offices closing.