People in poor parts of the UK are more likely to experience high-risk online gambling - a study
People in poor areas are more likely to use online casinos and make risky bets with high odds, according to a study that found gambling companies earn the vast majority of their money from the 5% accounts that make the most losses.
Researchers from the University of Liverpool and the National Center for Social Research found that most gambling accounts lost relatively modest amounts, but companies earn at least 70% of their revenues from the biggest losers.
In sports betting, this percentage rises to 86%, with people from poor areas being more likely to bet longer odds with less chance of success.
Players from the poorest areas were also more likely to lose money at online casinos, which was shown by research to be particularly at risk of high-intensity gaming despite lower overall losses for all players.
Nine out of ten online casino accounts have won money or lost less than 500 over the course of the year, but 164,000 lost more than £ 500 in one gaming session and 47,000 people lost more than £ 5,000 in a year.
This group disproportionately probably came from poor areas and lost money on virtual slot machines, which are burdened with a higher addiction rate than most other gambling products.
Slots accounted for more than half of the losses over £ 5,000 and 70% for sessions where someone was playing for three hours straight.
More than 14,000 accounts did this three times a year, often at a brisk pace, although in practice it may have been a smaller number of people doing it more often because users with different accounts were not included in the study.
Three-quarters of the slot accounts have spun machines more than 30 times in a minute at some point. The maximum spin speed is to be reduced to 24 times per minute.
"It all confirms my thoughts that the most vulnerable are being prepared and used by a purely profit-driven industry," said Labor MP Carolyn Harris, who chairs the bipartisan group advocating gambling reform.
"We've seen this with the concentration of bookmakers in poor areas, where the FOBTs were huge money producers," she said. “We see it on the Internet now. How can we trust this industry to self-regulate when it has repeatedly shown itself to be predatory and ruthless in its pursuit of profit? "
Proponents of tighter controls on gambling accessibility said the study found that such restrictions would not restrict the freedom of most people.
From accounts used for sports betting, the 85% lost less than £ 200, while the 90% gaming accounts lost money or lost less than 500 in a year.
"It confirms what we have known for a long time that the vast majority of the profits from online gambling come from people who lose more than they can afford," said Matt Zarb-Cousin of Campaign for Fairer Gambling. "Affordability checks introduced for losses of 100 per month would apply to less than 5% players."
The Betting and Gaming Council, the industry lobby, says gambling companies have improved controls since the study began. "There is growing evidence that recent improvements to the standards are now starting to have an impact," he said.