The Association of British Bookmakers today refutes claims made by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling (CFFG) alleging the gambling industry deliberately targets deprived areas.
The Association has written to the CFFG to inform them of the misleading and inaccurate nature of their data, which alleges the 55 most deprived English boroughs lost £470million on B2 gaming machines (previously known as FOBTs) last year, against £230million in the 115 best-off areas. The industry has shared its concerns with sections of the Government, MPs and media.
Not only are the CFFG’s overall UK shop figures wrong – numbers are decreasing – their data is based on crude estimates, averages and extrapolations for all shops – unverified by the betting industry – and paints a false picture in various ways. The average appears to be applied to every machine in every area inflating participation levels and stake amounts in a number of the most deprived areas, while deflating those in a number of the least deprived areas. It also includes profits made on £2 stake games on gaming machines in betting shops which means the overall profit figures for the other games are inflated by around 30%.
Dirk Vennix, chief executive of the Association of British Bookmakers, commented:
“The CFFG allegation is total fantasy, and we can prove it. The gambling industry does not target deprived areas. It never has. It never will. Our data proves that beyond contestation. We don’t want problem gamblers in our shops. We want responsible gamblers who are in control. That is why we are doing all we can to ensure levels of problem gambling in the UK remain low.
“We absolutely do not choose where to put our shops based on the type of area. Like any other retailer, we base our decisions on factors such as population density, footfall, competitor presence and rental costs. ABB research clearly shows that 84% of all betting shops are located in commercial centres and are in the same locations as well know high street brands such as Greggs, Subway and Nisa Local. Only 4% of all retail outlets are betting shops and their distribution exactly matches the population density per square mile.”
The industry has produced up to date and accurate figures per shop, mapped against the Government’s deprivation index, which show machines in the least deprived areas make four times more profit than those in the most deprived areas. It also shows shops in affluent areas have higher participation rates and staking patterns.
This data has been shared with the government and the Responsible Gambling Trust which is currently undertaking the largest piece of research ever undertaken on gaming machines in the UK.
Independent research by the Responsible Gambling Trust, due to be published soon, will also look specifically at betting patterns in socio-economic groups across England and Wales.
Unlike the CFFG, the RGT has access to data from every individual betting shop enabling it to provide an authoritative picture of what is happening.