According to industry figures, the number of high-street operators in Scotland is facing a continuous decline, regardless of the constantly increasing attractiveness of fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) and problem gambling rates. Reportedly, approximately 90 betting outlets ceased operation in the county between 2011 and 2016 mainly because of consolidation of the largest gambling operators.
Still, the continuous online gambling growth was boosted by the increasing number of players who preferred to use their smartphones to place bets, which after all helped for the decline registered in betting activities offered “over the counter” to be offset. The increased interest towards online gambling is considered to have been one of the main drivers for gambling operators to post profit increase.
To date, the UK gambling industry has been waiting for the final decision of the UK Government on the controversial fixed-odds betting machines, which have been put under fire over the past few years. Several months ago, the Government has revealed its intentions to impose tougher measures on FOBTs which have been blamed as one of the main reasons fro increased rates of problem gambling on the territory of the country. After announcing the results of its industry review, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) started a 12-month consultation period before making the final decision on the machine’s fate.
Campaigners against fixed-odds betting terminals want the maximum stake allowed at such machines slashed from £100 to £2 in an attempt to minimise gambling-related harm in the UK. On the other hand, opponents of the FOBTs crackdown such as the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) protested against more serious measures to be imposed on sector, saying that high-street betting shops have been some of the largest contributors to the Scottish economy, providing almost 5,000 people with jobs.
Scotland Has Highest Problem Gambling Rates in the UK
Lately, Scotland has been highlighted as one of the UK regions which are most-affected by FOBTs addictions. As reported by Casino Guardian earlier in February, Scottish players lost more than £1 billion on FOBTs in the period from 2008 to 2016.
According to recent industry data provided by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, Scottish players lost approximately £1.1 billion in less than a decade. Only a couple of days ago, Glasgow was reported as the UK city with the highest number of FOBTs gambling addicts. As revealed by a study carried out by the British Amusement Catering Trade Association, there are about 120,000 problem gamblers hooked to the machines in Glasgow, with problem gambling costing the city a little more than £27 million every year.
Currently, Glasgow’s Dumbarton Road features the largest number of high-street bookmakers in the UK as a whole, with seven betting outlets situated in a distance less than a mile long. According to the data provided by the research of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, Glasgow players generated the largest loss on FOBTs amounting to £236 million. In comparison, Edinburgh gamblers lost an amount of £119 million, while North Lanarkshire players lost approximately £90 million.