The latest estimates of gambling on betting shop roulette machines, released by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, show that across the Greater London region over £12.2 billion was gambled on them. With over 1,836 betting shops and 6,714 roulette machines London is estimated to have contributed £413 million to the betting industry’s £1.5 billion profits from the machines, which have been described as the most addictive gambling product in the UK.
The continuing controversy over the bookmakers’ roulette machines which are currently being reviewed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has resulted in Members of Parliament across the country calling for action, including West Ham MP Lyn Brown who said “very poor areas are saturated with betting shops particularly compared with wealthier areas.”
Hackney North MP Diane Abbot said “my concern is that these shops put little back into the community and can take advantage of areas with high levels of unemployment and poverty. They can also cause increased levels of crime including begging, drug crimes and burglaries.”
Conservative MP for Enfield Southgate David Burrowes also led a protest against betting shops in his constituency saying “there are just too many betting shops along Green Lanes. They have reached saturation levels and are diminishing the character of the high street.
Founder of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling Derek Webb, who will be featuring in a BBC documentary Inside Out, due to be broadcast in London on Monday on 7th October at 7.30pm said: “The proliferation of betting shops on our high streets is fuelled by highly addictive electronic gaming machines, where you can easily lose up to £300 in a minute. These aren’t pub fruit machines; these are high-stake, high-speed, high-risk gaming machines in easily accessible high street locations.”
A recent analysis of the money lost on what are known as Fixed Odd Betting Terminals (FOBTs) by Landman Economics revealed that across London up to 10,587 jobs could be lost over the next 10 years if spending on the machines continues to rise. It is predicted that player losses could grow to £814 million by 2023 in London alone.
Howard Reed of Landman Economics concluded that “Profits from FOBTs could double in real terms over the next ten years, resulting in a gain of over 11,000 jobs in the betting sector but a loss of almost 33,000 jobs elsewhere in the economy. But he warned “the extent that growth in FOBTs displaces other economic activity which is based on “buying local”, it is likely that growth in FOBTs in the betting sector is likely to have an even more negative impact on the local economy than we have forecast.”