With a recent reporting show that 1 in 5 betting shops throughout the UK can be found in poorer areas, there has been some talk of why this might be and what it really means. According to the report, which BBC News recently reported on areas in the UK where you’ll find the most betting shops including London, Middlesbrough, Liverpool and Glasgow; all areas that are within the least well-off throughout the country. The report was carried out amid the Government’s recent but ongoing review of the Gambling Act; which is looking at the way we gamble and what changes may need to be made to ensure that responsible gambling is promoted and encouraged.
Why are there more betting shops in poorer areas?
While we might like to think that people who bet do so with their spare cash and just for a bit of fun, the truth is that a percentage of people will be doing it with every hope of winning to buy the bills or put food on the table. Although this isn’t something that the betting shops are directly responsible for, it does mean that they are much more likely to have premises in areas where people might need to place a bet because they know they have a decent chance of attracting a large and eager customer base.
At an initial glance, the first solution suggested might be to simply close down the betting shops and make it hard for people to place a bet. However, the truth is that land-based casinos and betting shops are probably the hardest way to place a bet so taking them away won’t change people’s desire to gamble. However, in the most deprived areas what you will be taking away is somewhere warm for people to come, a place for them to socialise and an excuse for them to get out of the house. Although a betting shop might not be the ideal place for someone to seek warmth and company – it is somewhere that many people go and as such, taking it away will do more than just removing the option of being able to place a bet from the high street.
For a good number of years now, the UK has been keen to promote the Gamble Responsibility campaign. This is designed to encourage users to gamble responsibly but also put pressure on gambling operators to ensure that this is the case too. The Government and the UK Gambling Commission consistently review the regulations in place to ensure that they are up to date and work for the way we currently gamble. Technology changing and the way we live our lives changing means that the way we bet can change too – for example, during lockdown lots of people took up online gambling for the first time. Dramatic improvements in live dealer technology have attempted to replicate the live experience whilst staying at home – demand for this only increased during the pandemic however the popularity of it is something that is likely to continue. As a result, the UK Gambling Commission will want to make sure that any restrictions they put in place cover the online gambling industry too.
Changes to gambling regulations
There are several gambling regulation changes that we already know to be aware of – the speed at which a slot machine can spin and even the fact that auto-spin games at online casinos will no longer be allowed. Instead, the regulations will be changed to encourage people to be mindful of what bets they are placing rather than spending money mindlessly without considering the bigger picture. VIP schemes that encourage people to spend more money at a casino in order to gain access to exclusive games and sections will also be banned.
It is likely in the future other regulations will come into play that will encourage people to be more aware of the bets they’re placing & how much they are spending. Although this won’t stop betting shops from opening up in poorer areas it does mean that the onus will be putting on gambling operators to ensure that their users are encouraged to bet in a way that won’t have a negative effect on their life.
Poor areas will always need affordable and interesting places that people can visit in order to come together and socialise with other people in their local community. Betting shops might not seem like the first place you would think of when it comes to this need, they tick a lot of the boxes for people that do need this interaction in their lives.
Please play responsibly. For more information and advice visit www.begambleaware.org