More than 20 per cent of gambling premises are found in the most deprived areas of the country, compared to 2 per cent in the least deprived, according to a survey by the University of Bristol and the Standard Life Foundation.
Despite the increased popularity of online gambling, almost half of the country’s gambling yield – around £5bn – was still coming from physical venues immediately before the first COVID lockdown, says The geography of gambling premises in Britain.
The highest number of betting shops per capita are found in Glasgow, Liverpool, Middlesbrough and parts of London, the document states, with the most deprived areas also home to around 30 per cent each of amusement arcades and bingo venues – compared to 10 per cent of food shops. There is little that local authority licensing teams can do to prevent ‘clustering’ of gambling premises, it adds, with ten per cent of schools having a gambling venue less than five minutes’ walk away. Half of all gambling treatment facilities are also within 250 metres of the nearest gambling premises, it states.
While the gambling industry offered ‘much needed employment’ in deprived areas, it took ‘much more than it gives’, said senior research associate at the University of Bristol, Jamie Evans, ‘leaving a legacy of greater hardship and increased social problems’.
‘Problem gambling is a public health issue, causing serious harm to people’s finances, livelihoods and relationships,’ added Standard Life Foundation chief executive Mubin Haq. ‘Today’s report highlights that those living in poorer areas are more likely to be living next to gambling premises. Those with the least resources are being targeted more, with twice as many gambling venues on their doorstep as supermarkets. If we are to truly 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.’
Meanwhile, a new survey by YouGov has found that 70 per cent of people support a ban on TV alcohol advertising before 9pm while 72 per cent think alcohol adverts should only be shown in cinemas with certificate-18 films. ‘We are constantly bombarded with alcohol advertising both online and in the real world – and so are our children,’ said Alcohol Health Alliance chair Professor Sir Ian Gilmore. ‘The government has taken a great step forward for public health by stopping junk food advertising online and introducing other limits to its promotion. If alcohol is not included in those plans, we risk alcohol advertising filling the void that is left behind. The public want to see more done to limit young people’s exposure to alcohol advertising. The government must now introduce comprehensive marketing restrictions in both real world and digital spaces to ensure that children are protected from alcohol advertising and its harm.’
Report at www.standardlifefoundation.org.uk