November 19, 2021 4.29 pm This story is over 24 months old

Young people at risk as study finds 600 with gambling problems in North East Lincolnshire

Fixed-odds betting machines “crack cocaine of gambling”

More than 600 people in North East Lincolnshire are thought to have out-of-control gambling habits that are affecting their lives.

The latest study has highlighted how many people have been sucked into online gambling or bookmakers, with young people increasingly drawn into it.

‘Problem gamblers’ are defined as people who are hurt personally and financially by their compulsive gambling and may lose control.

There are estimated to be 642 in the borough, according to a report prepared for North East Lincolnshire Council’s Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Panel.

Another 1,000 people have less severe problems as a result of their gambling.

Online gambling on sports events or casino slots has become the most popular form of betting in North East Lincolnshire, making up 40 per cent of all activity.

The number of physical betting shops in the area has fallen by a quarter in the last five years.

However, fixed-odds betting machines – sometimes known as the “crack cocaine of gambling” – still make up a big chunk of all activity.

Around 300 young people in North East Lincolnshire are thought to be at risk from developing gambling problems.

The number is rising nationally, particularly as video games blur the line between gaming and gambling through random ‘loot boxes’.

25 betting shops in North East Lincolnshire have gambling licences, along with 14 adult gaming centres, four family entertainment centres and one bingo parlour.

The council report says: “There is evidence of a reduction in the presence of physical high street betting shops within North East Lincolnshire, this reflects the national picture and may be the start of further changes in the local market.

“The number of physical bookmakers in North East Lincolnshire has decreased significantly between 2015 and 2020, from 35 to 25 a decrease of 28.5%.

“The density of gambling premises in North East Lincolnshire is greatest in the most deprived wards, suggesting a local link between gambling accessibility and deprivation.”

It adds: “Gambling accessibility to young people is as accessible as it ever has been. For some it has become part of everyday life.”

Support for people struggling with gambling is available through Gamblers Anonymous Grimsby, the We Are With You Young Persons’ Service, BreakEven, among other services.