PUNTERS in the Borders lost nearly £2million last year on machines which have been dubbed “the crack cocaine of gambling” because they are so addictive.

The shock figure is revealed in a new study into fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) of which there are 48 in betting shops across the region.

It was commissioned by Glasgow City Council from the pressure group The Campaign for Fairer Gambling (CFFG).

A breakdown of the data estimated that, in 2013, there were 3,837 FOBT gamblers in the Borders who inserted £10.031million in the machines, which offer a range of casino games including roulette.

That amounts to over 20% of the gross amount gambled in the Borders, either in betting shops, on racecourses or online.

Over the 12 months, total losses on the bet machines worked out at £1.905million.

Across Scotland, a staggering £4.4billion was staked in 3,944 FOBTs with losses calculated at £55million. The CFFG claims the terminals, which allow gamblers to stake up to £100 on a 20-second spin, earn bookmakers more than they net from bets on horses, greyhounds and football combined.

A member of staff at one Galashiels betting shop, who did not wish to be named, confirmed that this was, indeed, the case. The Glasgow report was commissioned because the city council wants local authorities to have the power the prevent the installation of new terminals. City treasurer Paul Rooney claimed last week that the betting industry was regulated to ensure gambling took place within a safe, sustainable and responsible environment.

“In the case of FOTBs, that principle has failed,” he added.