Forcing gambling shops to change the way they operate fixed odds betting terminals (FOBT) would leave Glasgow City Council chiefs open to legal action.

A new report into the machines, dubbed the “crack cocaine of gambling”, has confirmed the city wouldn’t have the power to enforce new maximum stake rules.

In May, the UK Government announced plans to reduce the maximum amount that punters can bet on the terminals to just £2.

Currently, there are around 800 betting machines across 200 shops in the city, with residents losing around £31million a year on the terminals.

Figures released by the Gambling Commission show that there have been no inspections on betting shops since before April 2012.

And in a document, set to go in front of councillors this week, the local authority’s chief executive Annemarie O’Donnell said: “There is no legal basis for local authority officers to carry out enforcement activities in relation to gambling in Scotland.

“It is the council’s view that any enforcement activity is more than capable of legal challenge, particularly where it leads to a premises licence review before the licensing board.

“At the start of 2018, the UK Government consulted on a range of proposals for change to gaming machines and social responsibility with members.

“The council supported the view that the maximum stake on machines should be reduced from £100 to £2.”

The Gambling Act 2005 gives enforcement powers to authorised officers of licensing authorities across Scotland.

Glasgow’s licensing board is responsible for enforcement, but it is considered as a separate legal entity from the city council and it does not have any officers in place to make shops follow the rules.

The council is working with the Gambling Commission to highlight the need to change the Act to create statutory enforcement powers for local authorities.

But the Association of British Bookmakers claimed many betting shops have and will be forced to close if new rules are enforced.

A spokesman said: “This report is now somewhat dated as it fails to take account of the significant drop in the number of betting shops – and FOBTs – in Scotland in recent years, and the likely closure of hundreds of shops in the coming years as a result of the UK Government’s decision to reduce FOBT stakes from £100 to £2.

“We have written to Glasgow City Council with a view to working with them to promote responsible gambling and support their public health agenda, and we look forward to their response.”

In April this year, council leader Susan Aitken admitted she wants councillors to have the power to stop the use of FOBTs in new Glasgow shops.

She said: “There is cross-party agreement that we did want to have more powers here to take action. It has been very limited so far.

“I would also include the ability of local authorities to simply say no to these machines.”

Members of the general purposes city policy committee will be asked to consider Ms O’Donnell’s report and decide whether an inquiry into FOBTs is necessary.