MANY of us enjoy the occasional flutter, be it on the Grand National or a cup final. It can add excitement to the event, if rarely reward. However, for a small but increasing number of gamblers betting has becomes an addiction and Fixed Odds Betting Terminals - the high-tech gaming machines in bookmakers - feed that addiction. Problem gamblers can lose up to £300 in a minute, causing incalculable damage to family life.

These machines were introduced into the UK in 1999 and under Tony Blair’s light-touch administration there was initially no limit to the stakes or to the number of machines that could be installed. When the government later threatened to clamp down, the betting industry started legal action. The outcome was the shoddy compromise which exists until today.

There is a £2 limit on gambling machines in all other venues other than bookmakers and there is no justifiable reason why these shops should receive this preferential treatment. This needs to end soon.

However, gambling limits alone will not stop an addict betting when the internet, which is awash with online roulette and poker, is just a click away. The UK Government should make the betting industry enforce restrictions on online spending, together with an increased tax levy on these vastly profitable companies.

The Scottish Government and local authorities also need to work together to revitalise our high streets, particularly in poorer areas, where bookies proliferate, and impose strict limits on the numbers of such shops in our towns.