SCOTS frittered away at least £4.1bn on slot machines in one year, a shocking new report reveals.
The amount equates to £820 spent on “puggies” for every man, woman and child north of the border.
Despite feeding an average of £130 every second into the fixed odds machines, Scots got back just £150m – less than 4% of the cash gambled.
The Campaign for Fairer Gambling, which collated the statistics from betting shops through the Office of National Statistics, called on the government to tighten the rules on slot machines.
The machines, dubbed the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling, allow gamblers to stake up to £18,000 an hour on virtual versions of casino games such as blackjack and roulette.
But fans of the “puggies” – or Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBT) – get back just 3.7%, according to campaigners.
The figures for 2011/12 also suggest that Stirling spends the most per head of population.
The city’s 36,142 residents blew £62,840 on the machines – an average of £1,738.72 per person annually.
Residents of Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, spent around £1500 per person on average with Glasgow in third place on £1,400.
Campaign leader Adrian Parkinson said: “The solution is quite simple – provide player protection and bring the stakes on FOBT’s in line with all other gaming machines.”
“It isn’t just the gambler who suffers; I’ve seen people lose a week or a month’s wage in minutes on these machines and that drives aggression within the shop against staff and criminal damage of machines.
“It affects the finances of their families – how do you pay the bills and put food on the table when driven by addiction you blow every penny in a high street digital casino?”
Legislation on gambling is reserved to Westminister and David Cameron said earlier this month he was concerned about the operation of FOBTs.
Mr Parkinson said: “If the coalition fails on this then it is up to the SNP government to take the issue up and make gambling reform part of the independence question.”
Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont suggested that rather than wait for legislation, councils should use their existing powers.
He said councils already have the power to “limit the number of betting shops” and to place licensing conditions on them.
He added: said: “The UK Government is taking a balanced approach on this matter to protect players, particularly those participating in high-end stakes.
“There will be a report into this in the spring, and it is impossible to act without having the evidence of harm.
“This report will go some way to addressing that.”