Betting shops 10 times more likely to be found in UK’s poorest areas
Written by Hit Music Radio News on 23/08/2021
Betting shops are 10 times more likely to be found in poorer areas of the UK than they are in wealthy towns, new research has found, feeding a legacy of hardship and increased social unrest.
A fifth of all gambling sites in the UK are now found in the poorest areas of the country, according to a study by the University of Bristol. These areas include Middlesbrough, Glasgow, Liverpool, and London, which all have the highest number of betting shops per capita.
The Euros caused a spike in gambling problems, with calls to the National Gambling Helpline surging by 28% during the tournament, compared to the same time period last year.
Over half of the helpline’s advisers said they had spoken to a recovered gambler who relapsed during the Euros, with some saying people reported going to extreme lengths to gamble again, according to Gamcare, the charity that runs the service.
And despite declining numbers of betting shops around the UK – William Hill said in 2019 it would close 700 sites after the government cracked down on in-store gambling machines – there were still more gambling premises in Britain than stores run by the largest eight supermarket chains put together, the study found.
The vast majority of these betting shops, in contrast with other amenities such as libraries and supermarkets, are found in poorer areas.
The research found that 10% of all food stores are located in the poorest areas, but the same towns and cities account for as much as 34% of all amusement arcades, 30% of bingo venues and 29% of adult gaming centres.
“The research highlights the clear mismatch between the amenities available in ‘left behind’ areas, compared with those that are more affluent,” said Jamie Evans, senior research associate at the University of Bristol.
“Rather than having greater access to the facilities, services and opportunities that help people to improve their lives,” he said, “those in more deprived communities are disproportionately faced with choices that can often prove harmful.”
And while the gambling industry can sometimes provide job opportunities in deprived areas, Mr Evans said, “it usually takes much more than it gives, leaving a legacy of greater hardship and increased social problems.”
There has been a flurry of activity in the gambling space over the past 18 months: The owner of Ladbrokes and Coral said in June it had received an £8.1bn takeover offer from US casino operator MGM Resorts, while US casino giant Caesars Entertainment agreed to buy William Hill for £2.9bn last September.
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