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Sports Betting: The New ‘Crack Cocaine Of Gambling’ In The World

HARARE – Local councillors say the street in Newham, east London, has more bookmakers than any other in the country – 18 in total – and 80 ...

HARARE – Local councillors say the street in Newham, east London, has more bookmakers than any other in the country – 18 in total – and 80 in the borough as a whole.

In most of them, attention isn't focused on the horse or greyhound racing which streams as usual on to a row of televisions.

Betting Statistics In UK
• 8 700 compared with 16 000 – 30 years ago

• 84% on High Streets and commercial centres

• Employs 40 000 people

• Eight million customers

• 3% of population are regular visitors

• Before 2008 outlets couldn't open near each other
Sports Betting: The New ‘Crack Cocaine Of Gambling’ In The World 
Councillor Ian Corbett says, “It's the crack cocaine of gambling”. Machines average profits of around £50 000 each a year – and £200 000 per shop. Newham council has just lost a legal battle to prevent a new Paddy Power opening in nearby Green Street.

There too, the road is already peppered with gambling shops – three branches of Ladbrokes sit within a few metres of each other just outside the station. Bookmakers are limited to four fixed-odds machines per shop.

With machines bringing in on average £900 a week in profits, critics say some bookmakers seem to be avoiding the restriction by opening more branches, creating High Street clusters.

Reformed Gambling Addict?
Simon Perfitt played fixed odds machines for almost eight years.

“It's almost like a drug addiction. You definitely get an adrenaline rush. Your heart beats faster and you start to sweat, whether you're winning or losing.

You're just totally involved, nothing else matters. I have had £2 000 on the screen before, but even if you cash out you're only borrowing it. I knew I would be back the next day.”

In 2010 he went into a residential rehab programme.

Newham isn't the only council concerned about the proliferation of betting shops. Zimbabwe chose to ban the issuing of licences for betting shops – however they have proliferated around town.

Haringey in north London has 11 betting shops in Tottenham High Road alone. In America alone, gamblers gobble $380 million on sports betting, while Uganda has in excess of 2 000 betting outlets at the last count.

Betting, Addiction Or Profession
A survey of Newham betting shop customers by Campaign for Fairer Gambling found that:

• 98% male

• 77% under 35

• 77% from lower social grades

• 19% spend more than £100 each time they play

• 63% play more than once a week

The campaign believes poorer areas, with high levels of unemployment, are being targeted by betting shop chains. The Association of British Bookmakers denies this, saying its ‘offensive’, and like retail units, bookmakers simply respond to demand.

A Harare resident Cuthbert Rwafa, interviewed by has inherited sports betting as his new ‘profession’ after retrenchment.

“It causes a lot of fights – I know because it's happening in my own family. People get into debt and things get messed up. They become addicted.” – BBC/The Aloe News

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