More betting shops opened in Sunderland last year despite gambling addiction fears

Sunderland saw an increase in the numbers of betting shops in last year in spite of growing fears about gambling addiction across the country.

By Sarah Wilson
Monday, 01 July, 2019, 11:16
Ladbrokes betting shop

According to the register of business held by the Office for National Statistics, there were around 75 gambling business in the Sunderland area compared to 70 recorded in 2017.

Despite this short-term increase, there were 10 more betting shops eight years ago.

Sunderland has seen a rise in the number of betting shops on its streets over the past couple of years

The gambling sector includes casinos and amusement arcades, but the Gambling Commission estimates that about three quarters of businesses are betting shops.

Nationally, the UK's high streets had 11,470 gambling businesses in 2018, about 1% more than the previous year.

In 2010, there were 11,790 venues of this type across the country.

Amid wide-spread concerns about addiction, gambling problems among children have also led the NHS to open the first gambling clinic for young people in England.

Simon Stevens, the NHS England chief executive, said: "This action shows just how seriously the NHS takes the threat of gambling addiction, even in young people.

"The links between problem gambling and stress, depression and mental health problems are growing and there are too many stories of lives lost and families destroyed."

Marc Etches, chief executive of the charity Gamble Aware, believes that the rising use of smartphones has given people easy access to online sports betting, casino games and slots.

He said: "Retailing is moving from the high street to online, and gambling is no different.

"If you’re a problem gambler, it’s likely you could be gambling in a variety of different ways, be it in a bookmakers, online, or in a casino.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

"Having a highly regulated and fair environment for gambling, where ever, or how ever it might be, is essential, and customer safety should always be of the utmost importance."

There are 55,000 children classed as having a gambling problem in Britain, according to the Gambling Commission.

Ben Haden, Gambling Commission's programme director for Industry Insight said: "This year we have implemented new rules to strengthen age and ID verification checks.

"We’ve also been working with partners in financial institutions to develop the role they can play to protect vulnerable consumers."

Data from the Gambling Commission shows that from October 2017 to September 2018, the gambling industry in the UK made £14.5 billion in profit, with a third of it coming from online gambling.

But the Association of British Bookmakers has warned that some businesses may be forced to close, putting jobs at risk.

It blames the Government's clampdown on fixed odds machines, cutting the maximum bet from £100 to £2 every 20 seconds.

A spokesperson from the association said: "There will be a significant impact on the number of shops and people employed in our industry as a result of the stake cut but bookies will remain the home of traditional betting.

"We anticipate that between 3,000 and 4,000 betting shops will close on high streets and in town centres across the country by 2020. As a result 15,000 to 20,000 high street jobs could be lost.

"High street betting shops also face similar issues to other retailers, like competition from other forms of gambling, and the increasing costs of rent and business rates."

To avoid identifying individual businesses the ONS has rounded the numbers.