BOOKMAKERS could be forced to report criminal damage to their ‘crack cocaine’ gambling machines under fresh licensing rules suggested by Bournemouth council.

The idea was proposed at the authority’s December licensing board meeting after fears were raised that shop bosses deliberately avoid going to the police following vandalism to protect their reputation.

Cllr Andrew Morgan, the chairman of the council’s licensing board, cited an episode of Channel 4’s Dispatches programme broadcast earlier this year.

This showed angry punters violently attacking Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, dubbed the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’ by critics, after suffering heavy losses on games which allow stakes of up to £100 on the spin of a wheel or a hand of cards.

Cllr Morgan said that some bookies simply escort the offenders away from the shop without reporting anything to the authorities.

“If they report it to the police the premises can then become associated with crime and disorder which would give us grounds for shutting them down - so that’s why they don’t,” said Cllr Morgan.

Cllr Morgan said that a rule obliging betting shops to report and record such incidents of violence should be introduced.

During the discussion, which was being held to review the town’s gambling policy document before a six-week formal consultation, greater measures to protect children were also mooted.

Cllr Morgan said that gambling operators should consider the affect on youngsters of being able to hear gambling, as well as seeing it.

“Something that concerns me is if children can hear the whooping of somebody winning on a machine, it plants an idea in a child’s mind that gambling is something they could perhaps be doing in later life,” he said.

“If someone has a big win on a machine then that could be very beguiling.”

The licensing board approved the document, required by law to be reviewed every three years, to go out to consultation to bodies including Dorset Police, various gambling addiction groups, places of worship and trade representatives.