The Association of British Bookmakers has defended high-stakes gambling machines campaigners have compared to "crack cocaine".

The group, which lobbies on behalf of about 7,000 betting shops nationally, hit back after campaigners, politicians and businessmen raised concerns about fixed odds betting terminals in the Echo on Monday.

Players can bet up to £300 a minute on the machines, with stakes of up to £100 and can pay out a maximum of £500.

In a letter to the Echo, ABB chief executive Dirk Vennix said: “Incidents of problem gambling, as recorded by the Gambling Commission’s Prevalence Study, have remained relatively static in recent years despite the availability of more products, and are still significantly lower than many comparable countries such as Iceland, USA, South Africa and Hong Kong.

“The most recent study, published in 2011, also noted that there was no evidence of a causal link between problem gambling and gaming machines.”