Cheshire East Council is to launch new initiatives to tackle problem gambling, which has a hugely detrimental impact on individuals, families and communities.
The Council’s Cabinet has decided to block access to online gambling websites from all of the authority’s public computers, including those in libraries. Cheshire East has already led the way by becoming the first local authority to block payday lending sites.
At its meeting yesterday (Tuesday, December 9), the Cabinet also decided to throw Cheshire East’s weight behind a nationwide campaign to ask the Government to limit the stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) to £2 per spin.
Currently, FOBT machines can take bets of up to £100. Most of this is wagered on a digital version of roulette, which is played up to five times faster than the live game.
There are 33,400 machines offering casino games on Britain’s high streets, every one of which can take up to £18,000 in bets every hour.
Newham Council, in London, launched the campaign to cut stakes from £100 to £2, bringing them in line with other gaming machines.
Its submission to Government has become the biggest ever under the Sustainable Communities Act and by last week had already been supported by 91 local councils, illustrating the importance of the issue nationwide.
Councillor Michael Jones, Cheshire East Council Leader, said: “If the nationwide campaign is successful, we will be able to tackle the problem of fixed-odds betting terminals proactively. This will help us in our ambitions to keep our towns vibrant and attractive for residents and responsible businesses.
“This campaign is not anti-gambling but seeks to ensure that it occurs in safe, regulated environments.”
Councillor David Brown, the Deputy Leader, said: “This policy will enable the Council to take further action to protect people from falling into debt and other issues through accessing online gambling sites. This follows on from our successful trailblazing action in blocking payday loan websites.”