This article relates to Britain's High Street Gamble.
'OK, love, I'm just nipping down the casino for 10 minutes.'
That's not a line you'd expect to hear in everyday life. One might propose a quick trip to the bookies, maybe, but not the casino, surely, except perhaps in our major cities where some casinos are allowed licences.
But, nowadays, there are in effect casinos on every high street - lots of them. They're known as 'Fixed Odds Betting Terminals', or FOBTs. Video gaming machines which you'll now find in almost every betting shop, and which increasingly dominate the bookies' business.
These FOBT machines aren't casinos in the traditional sense, of course - with an alluring ambiance, smart croupiers, and people sat at the roulette table with their piles of chips waiting for the next spin of the wheel. But you can still play roulette on a FOBT, or blackjack, or poker. And you can place bets in very quick succession, gambling up to £100 every 20 seconds. It wouldn't take too long to lose many thousands of pounds.
Dispatches has been investigating the changing nature of our high street betting shops. And we've explored the advent of the FOBTs, a new form of gambling which is dangerously addictive, and seems to be directed at people in our poorest communities, those who can least afford high losses.
Academic research shows what effect FOBTs are having. Problem gamblers, those with a serious addiction, now lose more money on FOBT machines every year than they do on the horses, the dogs and in traditional casinos combined.
More and more bookmakers are setting up in working class districts, and often seem to act as a magnet for anti-social behaviour. But we've learnt that the planning laws make it difficult for local councils to stop more betting shops opening. Some communities and local politicians are now crying 'Enough! This area doesn't want yet another betting shop!'.
Armed with £100 in cash - kindly provided by Channel 4 - I show on Dispatches how compelling betting on an FOBT can be, and find out how fast I could lose the company's money. We speak to problem gamblers about their addiction to the machines, and to betting shop staff about how FOBTs now dominate their business. And we go undercover to show how many bookmakers are lax in checking whether teenagers playing these machines are under the legal age of 18.
Much of the change in high street bookies flowed from the liberalisation of the rules in the Blair government's 2005 Gambling Act. But now senior Labour politicians admit that legislation was too lax, with devastating consequences in what are mostly Labour communities.
The deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman tells Dispatches that the way the 2005 act applied to betting shops and high-stakes machines was a 'mistake', that Labour was 'wrong' to pass it in that way, and that the regulations against bookmakers should be toughened up again.
But the Conservative Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who in opposition correctly predicted many of the consequences of the 2005 law, shows no signs of wanting to tighten things up.