'These machines destroyed my life': calls for tighter regulation of the machines dubbed the crack cocaine of gambling

Hussain Vorajee says he wasn't a big gambler until the FOBTs were introduced. Credit: ITV News

A man who says he lost his home, his career, and his relationships after getting addicted to one of the betting industry's most controversial gaming machines has supported a campaign for more regulation.

Hussain Vorajee from Gloucester says the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, or FOBTs, "destroyed his life". Since becoming addicted in 2002, he says he has lost more than a million pounds.

FOBTs: "The crack cocaine of gambling"

Hussain says he wasn't a big gamer until the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals were introduced in the early 2000s.

Betting shops can contain up to four FOBTs by law, and there are thought to be almost 1500 of them in towns and cities across the West Country.

Players can bet up to £100 a game, the maximum win is £500. Credit: ITV News

They contain games such as roulette, and unlike fruit machines, where stakes are limited to £2, gamblers can bet up to £100 every 20 seconds.

You can win up to £500 a game, but the fast turnaround also means people can lost a day's pay in a matter of minutes.

Players can set limits on how long they want to play. Credit: ITV News

For most people, the FOBTs are a place where they enjoy a harmless flutter. But addiction is a growing concern.

The regulation debate

Campaigners are asking the Government to reduce the maximum amount you can place per bet. Some want it slashed from £100 to just £2.

But opponents argue that these machines are used responsibly by the vast majority of users, and further regulation will simply force addicts to places where they are fewer safety measures in place, such as online gaming.

So far, Paddy Power Betfair is the only major bookmaker to have told us it supports a significant reduction to £10 or lower.

Bookmakers say the majority of gamblers use the machines responsibly. Credit: ITV News

Bookmakers say that many high street shops wouldn't be able to survive without the FOBTs, and that staff have measures in place to protect those who are using them.

A long-awaited government review of the machines is expected to be released later this week.

Gambling addiction: advice and support

If you're concerned about gambling addiction in yourself or a loved one then there are many services out there which can provide help.

The charity Addiction Recovery Agency helps those from the Bristol area.

They've seen nearly 500 people this year.

National sources

  • GamCare runs the National Gambling Helpline. They can be reached 0808 8020 133

  • Gamblers Anonymous uses a 12-step approach and also has a support group for relatives called Gam-Anon

If you're worried about the amount of time or money you spent gambling there is help available. Credit: ITV News

Local sources

You can also find the support service nearest you via this map.