Bookmakers Increase in Middlesborough, UK, Despite FOBTs Challenge

  • Teesside sees an increase in retail betting shops
  • Rising popularity may lead to rise in problem gambling
  • However, William Hill request 50% reduction in rent after new FOBT rule takes effect
Casino chips in a shopping cart
Gambling shops increased in northern UK for the first time since 2015.

Gambling gains popularity in Middlesborough

According to the latest data, the number of gambling shops has increased in the UK town of Middlesborough, which has surprised many because of the popularity of online gambling and the recent changes to fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs). But it’s not all good news for operators: Giant William Hill asked for a 50% reduction in rent after the law that lowered stakes went into effect earlier this month.

The report revealed an increase of 10 betting outlets in just one year for the county borough of Teesside (North East England). According to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there were 120 bookmakers in 2017 and that increased to 130 in 2018.  This is the first time since 2015 that the city has seen an increase in betting shops.

The number of bookmakers in the UK increased by 100 from 2017 to 2018. The figures will be a welcome break for operators after the doom and gloom of the last few months. For, although this doesn’t appear to be a huge rise in gambling retail shops, it is the first increase since 2014.  This increase is considered surprising due to the growing popularity of online betting compared to the struggling high street.

The fuel for problem gambling

The industry has been under scrutiny in recent years, with campaigners urging large operators to voluntarily increase contributions for programs aimed at tackling problem gambling and its negative effects. Anti-gambling campaigners have called for additional measures putting local players under the same strict money laundering and identification checks, along with the ability to self-exclude.

Steve Moffatt, the public policy manager for British charity Addaction, has said that more than 3.4 million people run the risk of developing problem gambling habits in the UK.

William Hill asks for rent reductions

Although Middlesborough’s bookmakers seem to be growing more and more popular, well-known bookmaker William Hill is trying to prevent the closure of its shops by asking landlords for a staggering 50% rent reduction.

William Hill made the request to the landlords of all their retail shops at the beginning of this month.  According to Property Week, the huge company sent a letter to 2,000 landlords across the UK requesting that the rent cuts take effect immediately. The bookmaker has done this to avoid closure of any of its retail shops amid fears that 900 out of 2300 could be at risk due to the recent lowering of the maximum stake amount.

This month the new limits came into place, lowering the stake that people can bet on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOTBs). A £2 ($2.62) stake maximum on the machines has been implemented, a sharp drop from the previous maximum stake of £100 ($131). The cut is aimed at decreasing gambling-related harm in the UK.