Betting shops closing in Hartlepool as gambling premises decline due to online betting and high rents
The number of gambling businesses in Hartlepool has declined since 2010, as punters are spending more time betting online.
There are 25 gambling businesses in the area, down from 30 in 2010, according to the register of businesses held by the Office for National Statistics.
Industry representatives put this trend down to the rising number of punters gambling online and the increasing costs of rents.
The gambling sector includes casinos and amusement arcades, but the Gambling Commission estimates that about three quarters of businesses are betting shops.
More businesses may go, according to the Association of British Bookmakers. It blames the government clampdown on fixed odds machines, cutting the maximum bet from £100 to £2 every 20 seconds.
A spokesperson from the association said: “We anticipate that between 3,000 and 4,000 betting shops will close on high streets and in town centres across the country by 2020. As a result 15,000 to 20,000 high street jobs could be lost.
“High street betting shops also face similar issues to other retailers, like competition from other forms of gambling, and the increasing costs of rent and business rates.”
Data from the Gambling Commission shows that from October 2016 to September 2017, the gambling industry in the UK made £13.9billion in profit, a third of it coming from online gambling.
Marc Etches, chief executive of the charity Gamble Aware, believes that the rising use of smartphones has given people easy access to sports betting, casino games and slots.
He said: “Retailing is moving from the high street to online, and gambling is no different. We are very concerned there are potentially no limits to the amount gamblers can lose online, where there are no statutory limits to stake values and the use of credit cards is permitted.
“Providing the opportunity to gamble on the basis of credit seems to us to be fundamentally wrong. This is why we’d like to see a ban on the use of credit cards when gambling online.”
There are 61 areas of the country that have bucked the national trend and now have more gambling shops than in 2010.
To avoid identifying individual businesses the ONS has rounded the numbers.