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Another consequence with the increase of betting shops is the risk that it will create a culture of gambling in the UK. Though the British have much fewer gambling addicts than the U.S., an estimated half a million people still suffer from addiction. Since the introduction of FOBT’s, centres designated to fighting gambling addiction such as GamCare, are already witnessing an increasing number of calls to their helpline.


In regards to the addictive nature of betting, as one gambler put it: “It’s better to smoke drugs. At least they


make you happy, gambling doesn’t even do that.”


The other danger, present when there are betting shops in a community, is all of the adverse affects that are caused by gambling. Studies have shown these shops being linked to higher rates of crime. One such piece of research found that as many as one quarter of gamblers had committed a crime in order to fuel their habit. Links connecting gambling to other problems such as drug and alcohol addiction, as well as mental health conditions, have also been shown. In light of all of the adverse affects of the


betting industry and especially its exploitation of the vulnerable, it is difficult to understand exactly why the whole industry is not either illegal or at least controlled to a much stronger degree. Currently betting shops essentially have free reign to go where they please, being classified under the same planning laws as banks and estate agents.


Though there have been some efforts within the government to regulate the industry, one reason politicians are against this is due to the huge revenues the industry creates. Over £1 billion last year alone.


While governments can often justify high taxes on social vices, in the case of gambling taxes don’t work for two reasons. First, unlike taxes for products such as alcohol and cigarettes, taxes on gambling don’t really provide the same disincentives. In fact, all they really do is drive more people to gamble illegally, an even less desirable outcome. The second negative aspect about taxing gambling, is its popularity within the low-income neighbourhoods. This, in effect, makes the taxes on gambling become a tax on the poor. Not an ideal outcome in a country where inequality is already creating so much discontent


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