42 Minutes, £2,600 lost: the u.k.’s growing gambling problem

The New York Times on Tuesday evening released a piece on the highly controversial fixed odds machines scattered throughout the United Kingdom. 

Some politicians have tried to eradicate the machines.  Bookmakers see them as cash cows.

The Times report profiles a gambler who lost £300 in a matter of 16 minutes playing on the terminals, then another £2300 over the course of 24 minutes.


Campaigners and some researchers say the machine is an unusually addictive form of gambling that is sucking billions out of Britain’s poorest communities, and some hope it will be banned after a government review next month.

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From the New York Times:
But bookmakers, backed by other researchers, counter that there is no clear evidence that the machine is any more addictive than other kinds of gambling — like the online casino, a product that is restricted in the United States but legal in Britain. They warn that banning the machines, which are found only in British betting shops and provide more than half their profits, would lead to the loss of thousands of jobs.


For campaigners, a set of statistics published in August by the Gambling Commission, which regulates the British gambling industry, highlighted the urgency of the matter: It suggested that the number of British “problem gamblers,” or people whose lives are damaged by their gambling, had risen by more than 53 percent between 2012 and 2015, from 280,000 to 430,000.

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The bookmakers, though, pointed to a line in the report that said the rate of problem gambling had remained “statistically stable,” because both figures are small compared with the British population as a whole.