The most deprived areas in the UK are said to have the highest concentration of betting shops, according to a recent study commissioned by the Standard Life Foundation independent charity.
The report, which was compiled by academics at the University of Bristol, shows that the nation’s poorest areas are home to 10 times more betting shops than its most affluent parts.
According to the research, “those with the least resources are being targeted more” and venues offering the highly controversial fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) are concentrated in the UK’s poorest parts against the wishes of people who live in those areas.
Scholars found that at 10,000, Great Britain has more brick-and-mortar gaming and sports betting facilities than supermarkets. The aforementioned number includes betting shops, amusement arcades, and bingo sites.
Of the above gambling locations, about 21% of them are located in the most deprived areas of the country, while just around 2% are situated in the wealthiest parts of the country. In comparison, 10% of large supermarket chains’ sites are located in the poorest areas, while 7% are in the most affluent ones.
Glasgow is found to be home to the most betting facilities with one of these for every 3,264 people. Liverpool, London’s poorer areas and Middlesbrough are trailing not far behind.
Bingo Halls Show Strongest Correlation
According to the recent report’s findings, the correlation with deprivation is most prominent for bingo halls, followed by “family entertainment centers” that can typically be found in coastal towns where economic deprivation is statistically more likely, and gaming arcades.
Betting shops show weaker correlation, but the study says it is still “statistically significant.”
The results of the new report have rekindled discussions about the so-called clustering practiced by UK-licensed gambling operators, which have repeatedly been accused of intentionally concentrating a large number of betting shops in an area to operate more FOBTs there.
Gambling companies took a big hit in 2019 when the maximum stake FOBTs can take was slashed from £100 to £2. There have been calls for tighter curbs on the retail sector amid the Government’s ongoing gambling review.
Mubin Haq, Chief Executive of Standard Life Foundation, said that the new study “highlights that those living in poorer areas are more likely to be living next to gambling premises” and that people with limited resources are targeted more by gambling companies with “twice as many gambling venues on their doorstep as supermarkets.”
According to Mr. Haq, the gambling reforms that are currently under consideration by MPs must take into account “the geography of gambling venues and give local authorities more control over licensing”, if they want these reforms to truly level up regulation of the nation’s gambling industry.
Source: UK’s most deprived areas have highest number of gambling outlets – report, The Guardian, August 23, 2021