Gamblers have staked £82million on slot machines in betting shops across Hemel Hempstead.
Figures from the Campaign for Fairer Gambling show that between March 2015 and March 2016, the amount gambled on Fixed Odd Betting Terminals (FOBTs) has risen from £75million to £82million.
Gamblers have lost more than £3million using the 58 machines which are spread across 13 betting shops.
Gary Cook, Labour’s Dacorum Borough Council candidate in the Adeyfield West by-election, said: “I’m all for having a flutter but these machines are designed to maximise profit.
“The result is ruined lives and additional financial strain on family budgets. Clearly there is a problem here and it is time to make a stand.
“We want these machines removed from our communities, starting with the two that can be found in the Coral bookmakers in The Queens Square.”
The roulette-like FOBTs, licensed by Dacorum Borough Council, allow gamblers to bet up to £100 every 20 seconds.
Normal betting machines have a fixed stake of £2 and Labour wants to see this enforced on FOBTs. But a spokesman for the Association of British Bookmakers said banning one type of machine ‘risks people migrating to other, less safe forms of gambling’.
He added: “With highly trained staff and an emphasis on knowing our customers, high street betting shops are among the safest places in which to gamble. All shop staff are trained to identify anyone who may be getting into difficulty with their gambling and there is a plethora of material in shops highlighting what to do if you need help.
“All these measures have helped ensure problem gambling rates have remained low – at around just 0.5 per cent of the population since 1999.”
Betting shops in Hemel employ 57 people and pay £1.8 million a year in taxation, including an average of £10,000 per shop in business rates to the local council each year.
The average stake on a gaming machine in Hemel is £8.66, and an average game lasts for around nine minutes.
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