Fifth of gambling premises located in most deprived areas of Britain

  • Updated
  • By Max Jenner
Deprived areas gambling
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A report by researchers at the University of Bristol has revealed that licensed gambling premises are 10 times more likely to be found in deprived areas than in affluent ones.

The report was carried out by researchers at the University of Bristol’s Personal Finance Research Centre in collaboration with Standard Finance Group, an independent charitable foundation. Its findings on gambling premises are contextualised by similar analyses of supermarkets and automated teller machines.

Overall, 21% of gambling premises were found to be located in the 10% most deprived areas of the country. Nationally as well as within this 10%, there are more licensed gambling venues than the number of stores operated by the eight largest British supermarket chains.

The number of supermarkets and public libraries located within the most deprived 10% of the country stands at 10% and 13% respectively. Just 2% of gambling facilities are located in the least deprived areas of Britain.

The report also sheds light on the ability of young people to access gambling activities: almost a tenth of schools across the country are located within a five-minute walking distance of some kind of gambling venue — potentially affecting as many as 742,000 students.

Data from the Gambling Commission shows that, despite the growing popularity of online gambling, land-based gambling venues were responsible for 44% of the gross yield taken in by the industry during the 2019-20 financial year.

Nonetheless, the report found that the public were far less likely to want to find betting shops on the high street than other amenities. According to a 2018 YouGov study cited in the report, 73% of the general public would prefer not to see bookmakers on their ‘ideal high street’.

Commenting on the findings, the report’s co-author Jamie Evans said: ‘Rather than having greater access to the facilities, services and opportunities that help people to improve their lies, those in more deprived communities are disproportionately faced with choices that can often prove harmful.’

For many, the report’s revelations will not come as a shock. Whether the current situation will continue might well hinge on the outcome of the government’s ongoing review of the Gambling Act 2005, due to be wrapped up by the end of this year. A potential outcome of this review might be a stricter licensing regime, with local authorities able to exercise more power over the location of new betting shops. This might eventually lead to a more even distribution of premises across the country.