A FORMER addict of fixed-odds betting terminals has said the machines left him a “broken man”.

Martin Paterson, 58, from Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, lost “thousands” after becoming addicted in 2005.

He described himself as “just a normal punter” until he started playing on the terminals, which allow people to stake up to £100.

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He has campaigned for changes to legislation around the machines, which he says left him “a possessed animal”.

Herald View: Government must take decisive action on betting machines

Mr Paterson was speaking as it emerged the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) – known as the crack cocaine of gambling – is to be cut from £100 to between £50 and £2.

The high-stake, high-speed electronic casino games are said to be dangerously addictive and currently allow a stake of up to £100 every 20 seconds, enabling a player to theoretically gamble away £18,000 an hour. However bookmakers fear the plan, part of a package of measures announced in the Government’s gambling review, will not work and will have a negative impact on the High Street, causing job losses and “ruining the lives of the thousands of employees”.

But others believe it does not go far enough, describing it as “deeply disappointing” and raising concerns that the process is taking too long.

Herald View: Government must take decisive action on betting machines

Culture minister Tracey Crouch said: “It is vital that we strike the right balance between socially-responsible growth and protecting the most vulnerable, including children, from gambling-related harm.”

Mr Paterson, a former taxi driver who was gambling away £60 in the space of 20 minutes at the height of his addiction, said: “Once you walk in the door it takes over your life. I don’t understand it myself.

“It’s not all about the thousands of pounds. My £60 was more important to me than thousands.

“The next thing you know you’re borrowing from lenders to pay the bills. You can’t go and and tell your wife.I was constantly gambling to the point it interfered with my work because I didn’t have change to give customers.

“I lost everything.”

Herald View: Government must take decisive action on betting machines

He said: “You end up a broken man. I realised I wasn’t a father, I wasn’t a husband. I was a possessed animal.”

Mr Paterson, now a landscape gardener who has fully recovered from his addiction with the help of his family and employers, said he most regretted the time he lost with loved ones.