“We would find it difficult to regard so strong an action (cutting stakes from £100 to £2) as being proportionate on the basis of the existing evidence.”
Responsible Gambling Strategy Board

Introduction

Betting shops have been part of the high street for six decades but they’re increasingly under threat. Over 300 shops closed between March and September last year with the loss of more than 1000 jobs. A £2 stake on gaming machines in betting shops will hasten their decline. A disproportionate cut to £2 would have disastrous consequences – for jobs, the economy and much loved sports such as horse and greyhound racing –​ but would do nothing to reduce problem gambling. Betting shops are industry leader in promoting responsible gambling. The loss of thousands of trained staff would leave at risk customers more vulnerable.

Shop numbers

Up to 4,500 shops could close – half the retail estate – leaving high streets with more empty shops, less footfall and a drop in rental incomes. Betting shops have been part of the high street for six decades, but numbers are already in sharp decline. A £2 stake will destroy retail betting.

Jobs

Our industry employs over 52,000 people, more than the rest of the gambling industry combined. Up to 21,000 hardworking staff could lose their job in the event of a disproportionate stake cut to £2.

Economy

The UK Government’s own impact assessment shows that a £2 stake could result in a net loss to the UK economy of up to £8.5 billion over the next 10 years.

“Bookmakers are a key element of town centre life. We cannot afford to lose a stalwart of our town centres, our local bookmaker”
Phil Prentice, Chief Officer, Scotland’s Towns Partnership

Retail spending

With 6 million people visiting betting shops every year, they provide a vital stimulus for the wider retail sector, particularly at a time when more and more people are shopping online and our high streets are littered with empty shops. A study by ESA Retail found that 89% of betting shop customers combine their trips to the betting shop with visits to other local businesses.

Tax revenue

Betting shops make a substantial contribution to the local and national economy, generating over £1 billion in taxes, including £80 million in business rates. A draconian £2 stake would slash tax receipts by £1.1bn over the next three years, depriving our public services of vital funding.

Horseracing

Horseracing is a great British tradition and a significant economic generator, supporting 85,000 jobs across the country and contributing £3.45 billion to the national economy.

A cut in stakes will have a direct impact on funding for racing.

“The effect on prize-money and the economic ecosystem of the industry would be pretty catastrophic”
Martin Cruddace, Chief Executive, Arena Racing Company

Problem gambling

With industry leading responsible gambling measures, betting shops are the safest place to gamble on the high street. The close relationship between shop staff and customer means they’re best placed to identify and, act on signs, of problem gambling. Staff can monitor player behaviour and will intervene when a customer is suspected of spending more than they can afford. Often, they will be encouraged to self exclude through a multi-operator self exclusion scheme – 83% of customers using the service have found it effective in reducing their gambling activity.

If thousands of shops close, and staff lose their jobs, who will help spot problem gambling and offer support?

Responsible gambling

High street bookmakers lead the way in promoting responsible gambling, both in shops and in the wider community with projects up and down the country. We are committed to doing more to support those who get into difficulty. Find out more about our achievements to date.

Leading the way on responsible play

Betting shops are leading the effort to reduce problem gambling. As this table illustrates, there is now a widening gap between our active commitment to responsible gambling and the slugging response of other gambling providers.

Problem gambling comparison

The Government's own advice

Responsible Gambling Strategy Board

The government’s own advice from the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board stated that “we would find it difficult to regard so strong an action (cutting stakes from £100 to £2) as being proportionate on the basis of the existing evidence. The 95 per cent of players who currently place stakes at higher levels might feel that their enjoyment had been significantly affected, particularly since playing roulette with a stake as low as £2 makes it difficult to spread the bet in any meaningful way. The way in which players (and operators) would react would be very difficult to forecast and could create a variety of unintended and potentially harmful consequences”.

Shifting the problem

Evidence shows us that problem gamblers typically play multiple products – scratchards, slots, casinos etc. Numerically, there are more problem gamblers playing lotteries and scratchards than there are using FOBTs in betting shops. Narrowly targeting FOBTs won’t reduce problem gambling – customers will simply switch to other products that offer fewer safeguards.

A disproportionate response

The narrow focus on FOBTs is disproportionate and risks undermining support for problem gamblers. FOBTs account for just 13% of gambling spend in the UK. In fact, gamblers spend seven times more on other gambling products than they do on FOBTs in betting shops. A clamp down on betting shops won’t solve problem gambling – we need an industry wide response to improve the way we identify and assist those at risk.

ABB Chairman Paul Darling OBE QC on the threat to problem gambling if bookies close

Social inclusion

Betting shops provide a safe environment for 6 million customers. For many, particularly our older customers, the local bookie is a community hub, a place to catch up with friends, watch live sport and enjoy a bet.

Tackling loneliness is a key plank of the Government’s social inclusion strategy. Without betting shops, many of our customers would be socially isolated.

Back your local bookie

It’s not too late to support your local bookie. Just visit www.backyourlocalbookie.org to register your support.

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