LESSONS on the scourge of bookies’ betting machines are set to be given to Inverclyde school pupils — by addicts whose lives have been blighted by them.

Speakers from Gamblers Anonymous have been invited into the district’s secondary classrooms to give talks about dangerous fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

The move by council chiefs is in response to strong representation from MSP Stuart McMillan regarding the hi-tech machines, which have been branded the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling.

SNP man Mr McMillan — who has written to all 32 Scottish councils with his request — today welcomed Inverclyde’s positive decision to his approach on the issue.

He said: “While people can read or watch stories or reports on the dangers of FOBTs and gambling in general, there is nothing that hits home as effectively as meeting and hearing from someone who has lost everything as a result of these machines.

“Having these speakers in schools, telling their own stories to pupils, will be of great benefit and help them fully understand just how easily gambling could ruin their own lives.” The Telegraph told in February how punters in Inverclyde wagered an eye-watering £77 million on FOBTs in just one year.

FOBTs — which reportedly account for half of all betting shop profits — have allowed players to lose £100 every 20 seconds on casino games such as roulette.

Mr McMillan — who wrote to council chief executive John Mundell — said: “I welcome Inverclyde Council’s decision to invite speakers from Gamblers Anonymous into local schools to discuss the dangers of FOBTs with pupils.

“I am delighted that the council and the area’s secondary head teachers have agreed to my request.

“This proactive approach is invaluable in potentially stopping young adults becoming addicted to these machines in the future.” Inverclyde North SNP councillor, Math Campbell-Stugress, agreed: “This is a very positive step, and I applaud the decision which follows Stuart’s request.

“The only way to truly tackle the scourge of problem gambling is through education, and the best place to start is in our schools.” The council today confirmed it had acted on west of Scotland MSP Mr McMillan’s approach.

A spokesman for the local authority said: “We share concerns regarding the use of fixed odds betting terminals in our communities.

“Given the dangers they pose to young people, and the benefit they would gain by hearing from those affected, we are happy to invite speakers from Gamblers Anonymous into secondary schools to speak to pupils.” The special educational talks are set to get underway after the new school term begins in August.