East Lancashire councillors to fight on after Government votes against betting machines crackdown (From Burnley and Pendle Citizen)
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East Lancashire councillors to fight on after Government votes against betting machines crackdown
3:30pm Friday 10th January 2014 in News
EAST Lancashire councillors said they would continue to call for powers to restrict or ban betting machines, despite MPs voting against the move in Parliament.
Government ministers promised people would be ‘protected’ against the machines after a review into the machines ends later this year.
But MPs voted against handing local authorities the power to restrict the machines by 314 to 232, a majority of 82.
Only Hyndburn and Haslingden MP Graham Jones voted in favour, whilet Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson, Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle, Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans, and Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry all voted against.
Jack Straw was out of the country and did not vote.
The machines — fixed odds betting terminals — allow punters to spend £100 every 20 seconds on virtual casino and racing games, such as roulette.
People in East Lancashire spent more than £270m on the machines — dubbed the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’ —last year, according to the Campaign for Fairer Gambling.
Hyndburn Council will be the first in East Lancashire to call for the power to restrict the machines, if a motion put forward by a senior Labour councillor is passed at a meeting on January 23.
Its leader, Coun Miles Parkinson, confirmed yesterday the council would still push ahead with the motion, despite Wednesday’s vote.
Labour leader Ed Miliband has previously promised to give local authorities power over the machines if he gets into power.
Liberal Democrat MP Gordon Birtwistle said: “The law needs amending, but we can’t change the law without taking evidence and doing it properly. A kneejerk reaction like the Labour party are doing won’t work because the bookmakers will challenge it.”
Speaking on Twitter, Graham Jones said he had asked in the House of Commons for a guarantee that a report into the machines will be published in the spring and debated.
He said: “It’s disappointing that the government voted against it because it leaves the position unclear.
“The government is coming under an increasing amount of pressure to deal with this highly addictive form of gambling.”
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