WORLD Cup fever could lead to a rise in the use of highly-addictive betting machines across Yorkshire, new research has revealed.
A survey into gambling habits during major sporting tournaments found that punters were more likely to use a fixed odds betting terminal (FOBT) after placing a bet on events such as Brazil 2014.
Hundreds of adults from across the region admitted the lure of the machines, dubbed ‘the crack cocaine of gambling’.
Of the 500 people surveyed by Priory, 40 per cent admitted to using an FOBT after betting on a big sporting event.
The news will raise fresh fears for campaigners just months after The Yorkshire Post revealed more than £110million was lost by punters in the region last year.
Adrian Parkinson, a former manager of a major UK betting agent who is now involved in the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, said: “These machines were causing serious problems in the betting shops. I was watching these guys spending £2 for bets over the counter, but once they got to the machines they completely changed. So they were making these men go from making £2 bets to £10 to 20 spins on the machines. These weren’t the guys who could potentially afford these types of stakes to bet on.”
Councils across Yorkshire put pressure on the government to get tougher on bookies amid fears hard-pressed residents were spiralling into debt at the hands of the terminals, which prompted some tighter regulation to be introduced in May.
A spokeswoman for Leeds Council said: “The use of FOBTs is something we have concerns about.
“We are aware of a lobby by councils which resulted in some restrictions on the amount of money which can be inserted.
“We welcome such restrictions to help combat problem gambling and stop people from getting into unnecessary debt. Debt is something that we take very seriously.”
A spokesman for the Association of British Bookmakers said: “What is important is that people bet responsibly and only what they can afford, whether it be on the World Cup or on a machine.”