Hammer-Wielding Gambling Addict Goes on Rampage at Bookmakers

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Taxi driver Eric Baptista, 29, used a hammer and anti-vandal paint in his rampage against several so-called “crack cocaine” fixed odds gambling terminals at seven different William Hill bookmaking businesses throughout England.  The attacks took place over a three-week period.

The defendant was handed a 12-month sentence suspended for two years.

“I’m sick of losing money!” the distressed gambler shouted while destroying the fixed odds terminals. 

After throwing water balloons at gaming machines at another branch, he was heard to say: ‘This is a protest – there’s no safety net for customers.’

Mike Stephenson, prosecuting at Liverpool Crown Court,  illustrated to the Court Baptista’s motive for the destruction.

“He said he was a gambling addict and had lost everything. He said he smashed all the machines out of frustration that he had lost so much money and William Hill had done nothing to help him. He said he started a forum against the gambling industry and campaigned to try to highlight the problems gamblers face without the help of betting companies.

“He said he didn’t regret causing the damage and that he was willing to face the consequence of his actions.”

Just last week, British Chancellor Philip Hammond managed to block government attempts to curb high-stakes gambling machines commonly found in betting shops in order to preserve tax revenues.

Britain's ministry for culture, media and sports, which regulates the gambling industry, launched a consultation in October into the maximum wagers that should be allowed on gambling machines, including those known as fixed-odds betting terminals.

These machines currently allow gamblers to bet as much as 100 pounds ($130) every 20 seconds in electronic versions of casino games like roulette, and some British lawmakers have called for this to be reduced to 2 pounds.

Lawmakers opposed to the machines say they account for more than half of bookmakers' profits, and caused gamblers to lose 1.7 billion pounds in 2015.

The Daily Mail said the machines brought in more than 400 million pounds a year in tax revenues.

Fears over curbing the fixed odds terminals have caused bookmaker share prices to drop.

- Jagajeet Chiba, Gambling911.com

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