Glasgow has been revealed as the city with the highest number of sportsbooks per capita in United Kingdom.
The recent research about gambling habits among the population of Britain has revealed that Glasgow has the highest number of betting shops per capita than any other city in the United Kingdom. The results have already sparked a series of allegations that gambling companies operating under British gambling laws are targeting the poorest communities with their high-stakes Fixed Odds Betting Terminals or FOBTs.
One of the most renowned opponents of FOBTs in Britain, The Campaign for Fairer Gambling, has taken a closer look at the results of the study. They claim that there is currently one sportsbook for every 2458 adults, a total of 205 operations, in the city of Glasgow.
The campaign group says the results mean that there’s almost 800 FOBTs or “puggies” as they call them in the city. This figure is much higher than the initial estimates for Glasgow, when it was making its bid for a “supercasino” to be built a couple of years ago.
What’s wrong with FOBTs
Fixed Odds Betting Terminals are gaming machines located primarily inside land-based outlets of renowned brick-and-mortar and online sportsbooks in the United Kingdom. These machines basically provide casino-style gambling, but with limited computer-based graphics.
Glasgow has most sportsbooks per capita in Britain
• Survey of bookies operating under British gambling laws confirms the figures
• Opponents of FOBTs claim the industry is targeting the poorest areas
• New code of conduct from sportsbooks aims to solve the problem
Opponents claim that the worst thing about FOBTs is that they can “eat” up to GBP 100 every 20 seconds – GBP 300 every minute. However, most of the games available on these machines have much lower stakes.
Campaigners estimated that gamblers in Glasgow alone have lost more than GBP 30 million on these machines last year. Whereas nationwide loss figures are estimated at GBP 156 million. According to FOBTs opponents, the biggest share of losses has come from the poorest neighborhoods putting further strain on families living there.
Fairer Gambling adviser, Adrian Parkinson, who is also a former gambling industry expert specializing in FOBTs, had the following comments for British gambling news: “We are increasingly seeing clusters of bookies in the most deprived areas, not in posh places.”
Situation elsewhere in Britain
Liverpool, where the economic situation is not much different from Glasgow, has the second highest density of FOBTs per capita. Other cities have much lower figures of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals penetration. For example, Edinburgh has 1 bookmaker per 3700 adults. Naturally, the gambling industry is heavily disputing the results, point out inconsistencies.
Reaction from authorities
Paul Rooney, Glasgow City Treasurer, is serious about minimizing the number of sportsbooks in the city. He’s now looking for more legal rights, which will allow the city leadership to restrict the number of bookies.
Evening Times have recently carried out their own survey of gambling industry. It reveals that ever since FOBTs have been made legal, the number of sportsbooks has increased by a fifth. Almost every land-based sports betting shop in Britain has at least one FOBT installed on the premises.
Here’s what Paul Rooney had to say: “These figures make it clear that big-name betting shops are targeting vulnerable people in communities where there are issues with deprivation. You see it in Glasgow and you see it in Liverpool – more bookies, more bets and bigger losses. Our research shows firms trying to pack more shops into the same streets. It is the addictive power of these high-speed, high-stake casino-style machines that is driving that expansion.”
Another point of view came from Association of British Bookmakers spokesperson. He said: “Glasgow has a population of half a million people so will have a lot more betting shops than less populated areas, just as it will have more bars or restaurants; and 84% of all betting shops are located in commercial centers, and exactly match the population density per square mile.”
Changes regarding FOBTs
Association of British Bookmakers has recently passed and introduced a brand new code of conduct. The main goal was to address the growing concerns associated with gambling losses on FOBTs. The code of conduct stipulates some restrictions on these machines.
Compulsory notifications and alerts will be installed on every Fixed Odds Betting Terminal in the United Kingdom. These alerts will tell gamers that they have spent 30 minutes in a row playing, or have gambled for GBP 250 in one sitting.
Naturally, it’s a step forward towards a compromise between sportsbooks and campaigners against FOBTs. However, opponents say it’s not enough. They have doubts the alerts will make players quit gambling and another concern is how the betting shops staff will approach the issue.