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Jimmy McGovern: "FOBTs should not be on our high streets"

Writer of BBC drama Broken calls for a ban on the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) damaging communities in poverty

Jimmy McGovern

The Bafta-winning screenwriter Jimmy McGovern has condemned the “immoral” Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) piling misery on some of the country’s poorest communities.

McGovern, whose upcoming BBC series Broken looks at poverty in a working-class community in Liverpool, said debts were mounting as a result of the digital gambling games inside bookmakers.

FOBT gamblers are currently able to bet up to £100 per spin on the machines, allowing players to pile up losses dramatically quickly.

Those machines are fixed to make sure you lose

“There is a need to act on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals in poverty-stricken areas,” said the writer of Cracker, Hillsborough and The Streets.

“There is no economic argument for those machines at all. Those machines are fixed to make sure you lose. They are immoral. They should not be on our high streets. The rate of suicide would also go down if you banned them. It would help hundreds of people, maybe thousands.”

Labour has pledged a crackdown on FOBTs, outlining a measure to reduce the maximum stake on the digital gaming machines to £2 in its general election manifesto.

The rate of suicide would also go down if you banned them

The Campaign for Fairer Gambling has found £470m is being lost to FOBTs each year in the country’s 55 most deprived boroughs.

And the right-leaning think tank Respublica has urged Theresa May’s party to follow Labour’s leader and restrict the impact of the machines.

“Self-regulation has failed; we are making the conservative case for a much lower limit to secure family life and promote prosperity,” said director Phillip Blond.

Broken starts 9pm, Tuesday 30 May, on BBC1

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