Concerns were raised in the House of Commons this morning about the impact of the spread of betting shops in our communities, and the increase in fixed-odds betting terminals, which have been shown to be a driver of gambling addiction.
Alex Cunningham, the Labour Member of Parliament for Stockton North, asked the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether she would commit to meeting her Cabinet colleague, the Local Government Secretary, to discuss whether betting shops should be placed in a separate planning category to prevent their spreading. Betting companies have been shown to open shops, purely to house these terminals.
The average regular fixed-odds betting terminal gambler loses nearly £2,000 per year and bookmakers are estimated to be winning over £0.6 billion per year from addicts. Compared to 17 other gambling activities, fixed odds betting terminals have; the joint highest ratio of use by 16 to 24-year-old gamblers; the highest ratio of use by the lowest income gamblers; the second highest ratio of use by unemployed gamblers and the third highest ratio of at-risk “high-time and high-spend” gamblers.
“The Government really need to do something about this. Gambling addiction is a growing problem right across the country, but it is a particularly big issue in lower-income communities like my Stockton North constituency.
“The industry makes over half a billion pounds from gambling addicts each year. Betting shops are being opened just to house these high stakes, low-reward terminals.
“While the Secretary of State told me that she was looking into the issues, she stopped short of agreeing to my suggestion of meeting the Local Government Secretary to discuss putting these shops into a separate planning category, to make it more difficult for them to grow any further.”