Masters of spin – how slot machine operators are taking over UK high streets

Passersby walk in front of the brightly lit windows of an Admiral slot machine arcade on a shopping street [1]

Masters of spin - how slot machine operators are taking over UK high streets

With concern focused on online casinos, the firms who run 'adult gaming centres' have been expanding fast - and glad-handing dozens of MPs

In the corner of a dimly lit room, the face of a middle-aged woman is bathed in the greenish-yellow glare of a giant slot machine. Next to her, an increasingly agitated man jabs furiously at the "spin" button, as the jackpot eludes him yet again.

It is early afternoon on a weekday and they are among half a dozen punters robotically feeding banknote after banknote into the mesmerising terminals of an "adult gaming centre".

These slot machine farms are one of the few high street venues quietly flourishing on Britain's high streets despite, or perhaps because of, the cost of living crisis. But an investigation by the Observer raises questions about how they are regulated and whether their operators are bending the rules to squeeze cash out of potentially vulnerable customers.

Analysis of corporate records also reveals how every pound that drops into the slot eventually rolls uphill, helping to enrich billionaire owners and fund political lobbying.

That lobbying now appears to be on the verge of bearing fruit.

Regulations governing high street slot machines are likely to be eased, even as the government cracks down on online gambling[2].

In the grip of slot machine addiction: 'I'd keep loading GBP20s in.

I could be in a daze'