As the review of the 2005 Gambling Act is still going, there are newer statistics that show the UK’s current gambling problems that need to be resolved. Last week, it became clear that the smaller towns in the UK are actually hosting a larger number of betting shops.
In the meantime, the bidding process for the new operator of the National Lottery is still ongoing. Many have shown their disapproval of the current operator, Camelot Group, with some high-rollers being ready to welcome a new lottery operator. Several bidders are hoping to win the bidding process by offering an approach that is very different from Camelot’s lottery operation.
Most Betting Shops in the UK are Located in Smaller and Poorer Towns
According to new research, a fifth of all betting shops in the UK is currently located in some of the poorest towns in the country. The study was carried out by the University of Bristol, showing that it is 10 times more likely to stumble across a bettering shop in poorer areas in the UK, than in bigger, more affluent towns.
The study showed that Glasgow, Liverpool, London, and Middlesbrough were the areas with the highest concentration of betting shops per capita. Of course, this study was very important for the ongoing revision of the Gambling Act. A Gambling Commission representative noted that handling the gambling-related harms in the UK is the top priority of the regulator. This is why any research of that type will be taken into consideration when working on a strategy to combat problem gambling.
The study concluded that although the number of betting shops in the UK was decreasing, it was still higher than the number of major supermarkets in the country. The results from the research also showed a huge difference in the number of betting shops in poorer areas compared to the available gambling facilities in more well-heeled areas.
According to the study, about 10% of all stores owned by major supermarket companies can be found in the poorest areas in the UK. Meanwhile, the same areas host about 34% of amusement arcades, 30% of bingo halls, and 29% of gaming centres for adults. When compared to wealthier towns, it could be seen that more affluent areas had more evenly distributed facilities like supermarkets and libraries.
Unfortunately, people living in these areas have almost no say in the regulation of such facilities. A study shows that at least 500 young individuals lose their lives every year due to some form of gambling addiction. A large number of young adults who have suffered from gambling-related harm were mostly lured to gamble by having numerous betting facilities near their schools or on the way to their homes.
According to Liz and Charles Ritchie, founders of the Gambling With Lives charity, locals do not want these betting shops in their poor towns. Unfortunately, they feel as if the government is cherishing the business more than people’s lives. Liz and Charles Ritchie are hoping that the local communities and the authorities in these smaller towns will be given more power. This will allow them to refuse the licenses to betting shops, especially if they are located near schools or other facilities that are often occupied by young people.
Meanwhile, there is the argument that betting shops have helped the economic growth in the country. A representative of the Betting and Gaming Council noted that the gambling field in the UK has generated £4.5 billion in taxes, used for important public services. The sector has provided 119,000 jobs and has contributed £7.7 billion in gross value to the economy of the UK. Nevertheless, Jamie Evans, senior research associate at the University of Bristol, believes gambling facilities are not doing enough to protect the communities in poorer areas in the UK.
The Ongoing Competition for the National Lottery
Ever since the National Lottery was launched in the UK, it has been operated by Camelot Group. After the recent criticism about its operation, however, the operator may not end up as a winner on the current bidding for the National Lottery. Last week, the participants in the competition for the operation of the National Lottery entered an inquiry of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee.
While the Gambling Commission was accused of interfering with the inquiry, it assured that it is not refusing to cooperate but rather finds it difficult to provide such information during the ongoing competition.
While Camelot was the unprecedented winner of the operating license until now, it is currently at risk of losing the operating license to one of its competitors. Among Camelot’s competition, there are three strong candidates, including the Czech company Sazka Group, the Italian operator Sisal, and Richard Desmond.
Among the disapproval that Camelot Group has faced, there was also a 2018 report of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC), showing that the company’s profits were growing at a much faster pace than its charitable donations. This and many other cases of criticism might cause Camelot the renewal of the National Lottery operational license.