The latest research by the University of Bristol revealed that over 20 percent of gambling sites in the United Kingdom are based in the most disadvantaged areas, which account for 10 percent of Great Britain.
The research was performed in partnership with Aberdeen Standard Investments asset manager, which come up with a report that studied the retail betting sector in the UK to establish the connection between gambling and underprivileged areas.
The research mainly focussed on betting shops, bingo venues, casinos, adult gaming centers (AGCs), and family entertainment centers (FECs).
The report established that between March 2018 and November 2020, the number of retail gambling locations had dropped by 15.8 percent. However, despite that, the report found out that land-based venues constituted 44 percent of the country’s gross gambling yields in exclusion of lotteries before the government imposed the first Covid-19 lockdown around £5.0 bn.
Researchers also found that many retail gambling enterprises are located in more deprived areas, with 21 percent of betting sites domiciled in the less privileged parts of Britain. In comparison, only 2 percent were based in privileged, more prosperous parts of the country.
The report revealed that the relationship between deprivation and the number of betting sites was highest for bingo venues, followed closely by FECs and AGCs. However, the connection was still strong for both betting shops and casinos. The report further discovered that 30% of bingo venues were situated in less privileged areas, with 29 % of AGCs, 34% of FECs, 24% of Casinos, and 18% of betting shops located in similar areas.
Although the population rate per betting shop was found lowest in the City of London, with a single betting shop serving 304 people that reside in the area, researchers dismissed the findings, claiming people mainly travel into the area for recreational purposes or work.
The cities of Glasgow, Westminster, Liverpool, and Brent had a rate of 3,264 for 194 betting shops, 3308 for 79 shops, 3,662 for 136 shops, and 3,790 for 87 shops, respectively.
Regarding FECs, the report outlined that a significant percentage of them are based in coastal towns, with 72 percent of all FECs in the country domiciled in these regions. As of November 2020, Ingoldmells and Chapel St Leopards were leading the charts with a cumulative of 10 FECs.
The researchers also found out that a considerable percentage of gambling treatment centers, accounting for 17 percent, were situated in the most disadvantaged areas of Britain. This was mainly because of the numerous gambling venues in these areas.
Researchers made another crucial finding that more than 10 percent of schools in England were situated 250 meters from the closest gambling venue, meaning the learners are within a five-minute walkable distance to the nearest gambling outlet.
Researchers also referred to the 2018 YouGov study that revealed that 15 percent of consumers craved a betting shop in their local street, while 73 percent were opposed to the idea of establishing a betting shop in their local street. Contrastingly, 92% of participants craved a bank and post office, 91 percent a chemist, and 90 percent, a cafe or restaurant.
Although researchers found out that there are a handful of policies that local authorities are using to curb the clustering of gambling sites, it is still not easy to dispute a license application. “The research outlines the apparent mismatch between the resource available in �deprived regions’ compared with those that are prosperous, ” University of Bristol senior research official James Evans revealed.
He further that those in less privileged areas have limited access to amenities, services, and opportunities that can help better their lives than those in more affluent areas, leaving them with tough choices to make, most of which prove harmful in the end.
Although gambling industries can create several employment opportunities in these regions, it typically pockets much more than it releases, further worsening these areas’ economic and social situations.
In a bid to regulate the gambling industry, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport is assessing the 2005 Gambling act to institute changes that will make the gaming enterprises comply strictly with the modern market.
In 2020, a House of Lords select committee argued that the new set of rules should give licensing committees more power to decide on the licensing of gaming sites, as is the case with the licensing of premises that sell alcohol. They further argued that local authorities should have the power to decide where a betting shop is to be located depending on the community’s interests in general.
According to Mubin Haq, Standard Life Foundation chief executive, the proposed changes should consider the location of gambling venues and possibly accord local authorities much more control over licensing.