GAMBLERS spent more than £144 million on machines in Bury’s betting shops last year – a rise of £3 million from the previous 12 months.

The figures were compiled by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling which says that, in 2013, 6,012 players spent a total of £144,543,887 on 130 fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) across the borough.

The lobby group claims gamblers in Bury lost £5,131,308 last year on the machines, an average of £854 per player.

Bury Council has the power to issue permits for FOBTs and their gambling policy states the authority must ensure gambling is conducted in a “fair and open manner”.

Derek Webb, founder of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, alleges the terminals are the most addictive form of gambling and has pressed the government to reduce the maximum stake per spin from £100 to £2.

Adrian Parkinson, consultant for the campaign, said: “The FOBT landscape drastically changed last year, with an apparent surge in betting shop licences and a predicted growth to over £1.6 billion in FOBT player losses.

“Our mapping now gives councils and councillors the opportunity to look at the impact across their boroughs and communities.

“It will help them to see through the smokescreen the bookmakers are trying to create with their new code of conduct."

Last year Campaign for Fairer Gambling disclosed £141 million had been gambled and £4.4 million lost in Bury in 2012 – suggesting FOBT use could be on the rise.

The campaign’s figures reveal £470 million was lost on FOBTs in local authority areas ranked highest in the deprivation index, compared to £230 million in the lowestranked areas.

Bury Council’s gambling policy adds: “This authority will pay particular attention to the protection of children and vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling, as well as issues of crime and disorder.

“Each application is decided on its merits, with the onus upon the applicant to show how potential concerns can be overcome. Moral objections to gambling are not a valid reason to reject applications for premises licenses, and unmet demand is not a criterion for a licensing authority.”