Gambling premises concentrated in poorer areas

More than a fifth of gambling premises are in the most deprived areas of the country, according to new research.

The University of Bristol, supported by Standard Life Foundation, has completed a report called ‘The geography of gambling premises in Britain’.

It shows that 21% of betting shops, arcades and the like, are in the most deprived areas, compared with just 2% in the least deprived.

Online gambling has taken off in recent years, but gambling at shops and the like still accounts for nearly half (44%) of the UK’s gambling profits (excluding lotteries).

Prior to the first coronavirus lockdown this amounted to around £5 billion.

Areas with the highest number of betting shops per capita included Glasgow, Liverpool, parts of London and Middlesbrough, with on average one betting shop per 3-4,000 residents.

Coastal areas, meanwhile, are home to nearly three-quarters (72%) of amusement arcades, with all of the top ten places with the most arcades being well-known seaside resorts.

Mubin Haq, Chief Executive of Standard Life Foundation, said: “Problem gambling is a public health issue, causing serious harm to people’s finances, livelihoods and relationships. 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.”

Jamie Evans, Senior Research Associate at the University of Bristol, said: “The research highlights the clear mismatch between the amenities available in ‘left behind’ areas, compared with those that are more affluent.”