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'Paddy Power is purposely targeting black communities'

TARGETING: Bookmaker accused of taking advantage of ethnic minorities

THE UK’S leading bookmaker, Paddy Power, has been slammed by campaigners who have accused the company of targeting black and ethnic minority (BAME) communities.

According to a detailed analysis carried out by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, 61 per cent of Paddy Power’s 349 betting shops are located in areas with above average levels of non-UK born citizens. These include Newham, Brent and parts of Birmingham, Slough and Leicester.

The report found that Paddy Power stores operate a higher number of controversial fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) in areas with large ethnic minority communities than any other bookmaker.

By comparison, only a third of William Hill’s shops and just a quarter of BetFred’s 1,375 shops are located in these areas.

REVENUES

The Campaign for Fairer Gambling said the analysis pointed to Paddy Power’s “preference for opening shops in areas of greater ethnic mix and there is a direct correlation between these areas and higher revenues from fixed-odds betting terminals”.

Adrian Parkinson, a campaigner who was formerly a top executive in the industry, said: “Paddy Power achieves a higher return on their machines than any other bookmaker.

“They may argue they are effective at picking the right sites. We believe they are deliberately targeting those communities with populations susceptible to the kind of addictive play enabled by FOBTs.”

Paddy Power has in the past argued that it has a fewer shops than competitors and was forced to concentrate in urban areas. The company is yet to respond to the report’s findings.

FOBTs, introduced in 1999, are a growing source of income for bookmakers. Between October 2013 and September 2014, they generated more than half - £1.6bn - of the in-store profit made by bookmakers.

Betting shops are allowed up to four FOBTs in each premises and there are now an estimated 35,000 in use across the UK.

The machine described by critics as the “crack cocaine of gambling” – offers simple touch-screen play, with little prior gambling knowledge needed where users insert notes or coins and pick a game.

PROBLEM

Charities have repeatedly warned about high levels of problem gambling in BAME communities and called for better regulation of FOBTs, ideally by reducing the limit.
Last year FOBTs, which are disproportionately found in poorer parts of Britain, generated £1.7bn of revenues for bookmakers.

A study for the Responsible Gambling Trust in 2014 said there were concerns that “the odds of being an at-risk gambler were higher among non-white ethnic groups, being around 2.6-3 times higher among those from black/black British and Asian/Asian British ethnic groups”.

Achieving the highest profit per terminal on FOBTs, the Irish bookmaker collects about £1,300 of profit per machine compared with rivals, which manage on average £1,000.
The issue will be a significant debating point in the run up to London’s mayoral show down.

DISTURBED
Labour’s mayoral candidate, Sadiq Khan, has made the issue part of his campaign, telling The Guardian he was “extremely disturbed” by the results.

“Almost every area of London with high non-UK-born populations has been targeted by them – not just one or two shops, but dozens in the same areas and in some cases on the same high streets,” he said.


DISTURBED: London Mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan is expected to crack down on betting shops

“This isn’t chasing footflow – it’s targeting the most vulnerable people, people who have come here seeking refuge and a way of improving their lives.
“It is disgraceful behaviour and reinforces why we must deal with the proliferation of betting shops in disadvantaged areas, and the addictive roulette machines which can cause so much misery.”

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