It’s a safe assumption that bookmakers are targeting certain demographics of the population when they decide where to open new betting shops. This targeting is made clear when you consider that the ratio of betting shops per head of population in the UK is several times higher in urban areas, like Haringey where a landmark review is taking place, compared with rural areas.
UK gambling regulations incorporate licensing objectives of ensuring socially responsible, fair and open gambling. We would argue that targeting vulnerable demographics to maximise profits is in no way fair or open.
Despite the fact that the betting shops are open less than half the time of Las Vegas Strip casinos, a betting shop machine in Haringey takes as much from players per day as a Las Vegas Strip casino slot machine. Our opinion is that this is due to the Haringey betting shop machines being played for twice as long and/or for stakes twice as high as Las Vegas Strip casino slots, due to more addictive content and / or more vulnerable customers.
Sadly it is also our opinion that the Haringey betting shop machine gambler is more prone to addiction than the Las Vegas Strip casino visitor – given that the people of Haringey are feeding the bookmaker’s machines as much as the Las Vegas gamblers, in only half the time frame. We would like to know whether the bookmakers think it is either fair or responsible to cluster betting shops in areas such as this. Hopefully the Haringey Council Scrutiny Committee will get to the bottom of it on Wednesday 10 November and recognise the important changes necessary in UK gambling regulations.