Kingston gamblers lost close to £6m on betting machines last year, a lobbying group has claimed.

The Campaign for Fairer Gambling analysed betting companies’ annual reports and Gambling Commission statistics to estimate the figure.

The group said it meant more than 5,000 people had lost £1,100 each on average in fixed-odds betting machines.

This week, the Local Government Association (LGA) laun-ched a commission to address residents’ concerns about the spread of betting shops in high streets. The “big five” companies – BetFred, William Hill, Coral, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power – have all signed up to take part, the LGA said.

Kingston Council is one of several councils that took the decision to lobby Government to change planning rules, in a bid to make it harder to open betting shops in vacant bank and estate agent premises.

The shops share the same use class as those businesses, and in some cases do not need planning permission to open.

Councillor Simon Jones, lead member for sustainability, said: “One of the reasons we have a concern is over the fixed-odds betting machines that allow people to lose a great deal of money very quickly.”

He said the rising number of betting shops “drives retail shops off the high street and means the high street does not have a range of goods and services to offer.”

Conservative leader Coun Howard Jones said: “We are implacably opposed to any more betting shops in our high streets and support all and any initiatives to limit opportunities by changes in the planning laws and listening to people.”