Most people say the gambling industry needs tighter regulation, and have noticed an increase in the number of betting shops on their local high street – including those who gamble and use betting shops
"If we had known then what we know now, we wouldn't have allowed this, because it's not just ruining the high street, it's ruining people's lives.” Those were the deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman’s words on her party’s liberalisation of the gambling industry; measures which the current government are now under pressure to regulate.
Campaigners say that fixed-odds betting terminals (Fobts), which allow punters to bet up to £300 per minute, are leading to gambling addiction. They also say the restriction of four Fobts per shop are creating ‘clusters’ on the high-street – because more betting shops are simply opening up next door.
A new YouGov survey finds that 62% think there should be tighter restrictions for the gambling industry. 26% say the current balance is about right and 3% favour looser restrictions.
The 51% who gamble frequently or sometimes also advocate tighter regulations. By 56-36% they would rather regulations were tighter than stay at the current level.
Additionally, 56% overall and 62% of those who use betting shops to gamble say that over the last few years the number of betting shops on their local high street has increased. 27% of both groups say the number has stayed about the same and 6% and 7% respectively say there are now fewer.
Research suggests that the poorest quarter of England’s population gambled £13bn on high-speed, high-stakes betting machines in the past year – twice as much as was spent in the richest areas over the same period. David Cameron has said he “absolutely shares the concerns” raised by Ed Miliband over the issue, but will wait for a report by the industry, to be released soon, before acting.