The latest estimates of gambling on betting shop roulette machines, released by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, show that across the Yorkshire region over £3.1 billion was gambled on them. With over 771 betting shops and 2,819 roulette machines Yorkshire is estimated to have contributed £106 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 Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman who has said: “Walking the streets of any town or city in the UK you can’t help but be struck by the prevalence of betting shops on our High Streets. What is less striking to the unfamiliar eye is the proliferation of gaming machines within these shops over the past ten years.”
MP Hilary Benn’s Leeds Central constituency tops the Yorkshire region with an estimated £143 million gambled whilst Julian Sturdy MP’s York Outer, with only two betting shops, sees just £8 million gambled on the highly contentious machines.
Campaign spokesperson Adrian Parkinson, who rolled the machines out across Yorkshire 10 years ago, said: “The proliferation of betting shops on our high streets is fuelled by highly addictive electronic gaming machines where you can easily lose £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 Yorkshire up to 2,989 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 £229 million by 2023 in Yorkshire 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 34,000 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.”