City fears at betting figures

GLASGOW has twice as many bookies per head of population as Edinburgh and more than anywhere else in the country.

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The city has 238 licensed betting shops, 40 for every 100,000 citizens, sparking concern firms were targeting Scotland's poorest places.

Comparatively affluent Edinburgh has 99 such shops – or 20 for every 100,000 people.

The figures came in a survey prompted by a petition to the Scottish Parliament by Jonathan McColl, the leader of the SNP group on West Dunbartonshire Council.

Mr McColl, who admits to having an occasional flutter, says councils should be able to limit the number of such shops. He said: "If we can regulate the num-ber of alcohol licensed premises with an over provision policy why can't we regulate gamb-ling in the same way?"

Fellow SNP councillor Thomas Cochrane – from Shotts, North Lanarkshire – said: "We have three betting shops which are open past 9.30pm long after the last race of the day.

"It is becoming a casino operation rather than a betting shop."

North Lanarkshire has 87 such premises, which represents 27 per 100,000, the second highest figure.

Aberdeen, Falkirk, South Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire, all have 26 per 100,000.

Dirk Vennex, chief executive of industry body the Association of British Bookmakers, denied his members targeted the poor.

He said: "Historically, and we are proud of this fact, our customers tend to be working-class. They like a flutter."

david.leask@ heraldandtimes.co.uk

Local government

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