The Gambler’s Tale

the_gamblers_victim17:46 Wednesday 30th April 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[C]HRIS MANN: Proposals to tighten up on gambling have been set out by the Government today. It’s an attempt to tackle problem gambling. The Government will force the betting industry to give warnings about the amount of money players are risking on fixed-odds betting terminals. But just how effective will that be? Our reporter Johnny D has been in Peterborough today talking to people who use gambling machines.
JOHN DEVINE: So you’ve just come out there Charley.
CHARLEY: I have.
JOHN DEVINE: So do you mind me asking you a few personal questions?

JOHN DEVINE: How much time do you spend in the bookies?
CHARLEY: I spend an hour in a betting shop every day.
JOHN DEVINE: Every day of the week.
CHARLEY: Every day.
JOHN DEVINE: Seven days a week?
JOHN DEVINE: Yes. And what are you doing in there?
CHARLY: I’m gambling on horses.
JOHN DEVINE: And what sort of money are you spending?
CHARLEY: Ten pounds a day. My limit.
JOHN DEVINE: You’re limiting yourself.
CHARLEY: My limit. Yes.
JOHN DEVINE: And do you find that hard to keep to that?
CHARLEY: Because I’m an elderly gent.
CHARLEY: And I bet to my pocket.
JOHN DEVINE: So that’s seventy quid a week.
JOHN DEVINE: And do you often win?
JOHN DEVINE: So what sort of return, like give us the last few days of results. What have you done?
CHARLEY: Last week I laid out in total £4.50 and I got £150 back. For £4.50
JOHN DEVINE: So today we’re really talking about the fixed-odds betting terminals they’ve got in every shop here.
CHARLEY: Fixed odds betting terminals is so addictive to people who come in. They think they can win. I only have, say three pounds on it, if I have a, if I .. I hardly ever play them. But everybody else plays them. Young people play them.
JOHN DEVINE: So in your experience, you’re an awful lot of time in that shop, what sort of money are people laying out on there?
CHARLEY: I would say an hour, £200 an hour.
JOHN DEVINE: You’ve seen that have you?
CHARLEY: Yes. And more.
JOHN DEVINE: And more?
CHARLEY: Oh yes. Thousands.
JOHN DEVINE: How much seen? Thousands?
CHARLEY: I’ve seen a woman in there one .. last year, £9000 posted in fifty pound notes ino the machine like posting letters. There’s people I know has lost all their businesses, thousands, seven thousand a day. That’s nothing unusual.
JOHN DEVINE: So the Government want to bring in legislation to stop this. What do you think?
CHARLEY: Well how can they regulate it?
JOHN DEVINE: One idea is that the gambler has got to ask permission from the staff in the shop if they want to spend more than £50 on one of these machines. Good idea?
CHARLEY: No, because you’ve got to .. a load of people have come in from all different countries. And they are going to be aggressive. They want to just play the machine and try and win some money. If you interfere with them any way they’re going to get aggressive, and that’s a danger to the staff, surely.
JOHN DEVINE: In one of the bookies you said they already have a warning. What’s that about?
CHARLEY: They .. what they do in one of the bookmakers, they’re watching it on the screens of course, seeing how much money is going into the machine. And then the people behind the counter have to go out and say would you like a cup of coffee or something, if they’re going to stay playing. Of course people are being aggressive with that. If you go up to somebody who’s losing, which a lot of them are, and they kick the machines over. They go bananas. The police are called. Yes I’ve seen that in all the shops.
JOHN DEVINE: Very violent sometimes.
CHARLEY: Well most of the people who are in betting shops are young girls. That’s a dangerous thing to do. I think it’s a wrong thing the Government are doing, you know.
JOHN DEVINE: Why is it wrong?
CHARLEY: Well it’s wrong because you’re causing a danger to some .. these guys don’t look at it like that. When they’re winning they’re all happy, but when they’re losing ..
JOHN DEVINE: Wouldn’t like to be the person. Is that what you’re saying?
CHARLEY: No I wouldn’t like to do that.
JOHN DEVINE: The other thing is Charley, what’s to stop you coming out of one shop and just going to another one.
CHARLEY: That’s what they do. That’s what they do. All the time. But where do they get the money from? That’s the thing that .. you see I mean I don’t know. I don’t know where they get the money from. I’ve seen thousands and thousands and thousands put into the machines.
CHRIS MANN: Johnny D there reporting from Peterborough on gambling machines, and the proposals to tighten them up.