Study Finds More Betting Shops in Deprived Areas

A new study has shown that there are ten times more betting shops in the UK’s most deprived areas than in the most well-off ones.

The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Bristol and backed by the Standard Life Foundation. It found that 21 per cent of bookies are to be found in the bottom ten in a list of the most deprived areas. That’s compared with just 2 per cent in the 10 per cent of the areas that are least deprived.

The past few years have seen a number of betting shops in the UK being closed. William Hill for example have made several closures. People bet online, especially during the pandemic as betting shops were temporarily closed. However, this survey found that the number of shops was still higher than the combined total of the number of stores run by the top eight supermarket chains.

Another finding of the study was that 50 per cent of the country’s gambling treatment centres are within 250 metres of the closest betting shop.

The chief executive of Standard Life Foundation is Mubin Haq. He spoke of the problems that gambling can cause people. “Problem gambling is a public health issue, causing serious harm to people’s finances, livelihood and relationships.”

He added that it is those that have “the least resources” that are being targeted the most. “If we are to truly to level up, the new gambling reforms currently being considered must take into account the geography of gambling venues and give local authorities more control over licensing.”

The highest number of betting shops per capita are in Glasgow, Liverpool, Middlesbrough and some areas in London.

Jamie Evans is the senior research associate at the University of Bristol. Discussing the findings, he believes that it “highlights the clear mismatch between the amenities available in ‘left behind’ areas, compared with those that are more affluent.”

He added that those who live in deprived communities “are disproportionately faced with choices that can often prove harmful.” That’s compared to the fact that it would be better if they had “greater access to the facilities, services and opportunities that help people to improve their lives.”

Mr Evans accepted that the number of betting shops does provide “some much-needed employment” in these areas. However, he feels that “it usually takes much more than it gives, leaving a legacy of greater hardship and increased social problems.”

It is often the case though that those on limited incomes do still gamble. Look at all the pensioners that are seen in betting shops and love a trip to the local bingo club. Even if there were fewer betting shops available, they will most likely end up playing online.