Leicester gambling industry under scrutiny

The city council created a task group to investigate the consequences of gambling and its report on the activity has been released.

UK.- The city council has released a report made by a gambling scrutiny task group created to probe the growing industry and its, sometimes negative, consequences.

Leicester has 63 registered betting shops and counting, as the gambling industry is expanding fast. This popularity raised the alarm of city politicians regarding problem betting and addiction and prompting a deeper look. The information gathered by the group investigating gambling, led by Councillor Inderjit Gugnani, will be used to help people to combat their betting addiction.

“We are highlighting the issues relating to gambling, which in some people appears to have gone out of control. As a result of the evidence we have received, we are making a wide-ranging series of proposals involving council departments, partner agencies and voluntary organisations,” said Councillor Gugnani. “If there is an underlying message, it is that we need to talk to people about gambling problems, and they need to tell us what those problems are so that we can set about solving them. Too many people feel ashamed of their gambling habit, and this is a taboo which should be broken as soon as possible.”

The team met with gambling addicts in Leicester who were willing to share the extent of their problems to its members. Unfortunately these stories are common among residents of poorer parts of the city in particular, who face the temptation to go up against the bookies, in the hope of winning some money. The group also used data from the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB,) charities to help gambling addicts, the police forces and academics researching the field.

In the report, the task force has added a series of local proposals which include to set up a forum gathering the city council, the ABB and the police with the aim of drafting and examining regular reports on anti-social behaviour and crime connected in some way to betting and updates on developments within the industry. The team also suggested charging fees from applications to open new betting shops to fund the forum’s work, pay for specialist advice for addicts and fund voluntary work to help people with gambling problems. Further suggestions include gambling awareness sessions in secondary schools, through tenants and residents associations, risk assessments for new betting shops to make sure they are not close to other betting shops or schools or food banks, job centres, hostels or other establishments used by vulnerable people.

Nationwide, the group will continue to lobbying the Government to limit stakes on fixed odds betting machines, to further restrict the current limit of four betting machines per shop and to grant greater licensing powers to allow councils to control where new bookies open up.