Glasgow has most bookies shops of anywhere in Britain

GLASGOW has more betting shops per capita than anywhere else in Britain, sparking claims the gaming industry is targeting the poorest communities with high-stake "puggies".

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Glasgow has one betting shop for every 2458 people
Glasgow has one betting shop for every 2458 people

The Campaign for Fairer Gambling has calculated that there is now one bookmaker for around every 2458 adults, a total of 205, in the city.

That, the group has worked out, means that the city has an estimated 759 "puggies" or fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), more than was envisaged when Glasgow made a bid for a supercasino some years ago.

Such casino-style gaming machines can swallow up to £100 every 20 seconds, up to £300 a minute, although most games involve smaller stakes.

The campaign has estimated losses in Glasgow alone of £30million a year from such machines, out of a nationwide toll of £156m, much of it, they fear, being sucked out of the poorest neighbourhoods.

Adrian Parkinson, a former gambling industry expert in "puggies" who now advises Fairer Gambling, said: "We are increasingly seeing clusters of bookies in the most deprived areas, not in posh places."

Only impoverished Liver-pool comes close to rivalling Glasgow for the per-capita density of FOBTs, according to the figures, which are disputed by the industry.

Other cities have far lower figures - Edinburgh has one bookie for every 3700 adults.

Glasgow City Treasurer Paul Rooney has been seeking new powers to restrict the rise of bookmakers in Glasgow.

A recent survey, carried out for the Evening Times, suggested the number of betting shops, almost all of which now have FOBTs, had risen by a fifth since Labour liberalised their use in 2005.

Mr Rooney said: "These figures make it clear that big-name betting shops are targeting vulnerable people in communities where there are issues with deprivation.

"You see it in Glasgow and you see it in Liverpool - more bookies, more bets and bigger losses. Our research shows firms trying to pack more shops into the same streets.

"It is the addictive power of these high-speed, high-stake casino-style machines that is driving that expansion."

A spokesman for Associa-tion of British Bookmakers said: "Glasgow has a popula-tion of half a million people so will have a lot more betting shops than less populated areas, just as it will have more bars or restaurants; and 84% of all betting shops are located in commercial centres, and exactly match the population density per square mile."

david.leask@eveningtimes.co.uk

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