Scots are the biggest gamblers in the UK

Scots are the most frequent gamblers in the UK, with more than a quarter of adults north of the Border admitting that they gamble at least once a week.

Wednesday, 13th April 2016, 12:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th April 2016, 11:24 am
Three-quarters of people surveyed say businesses should be concerned about gambling. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The report found that over five times the numbers of adults in Scotland gamble compared to the 5 per cent of the working population in the south-west of England who do so.

Meanwhile, a third of Scottish working adults who gamble say they would prefer to keep the extent of their gambling hidden from their colleagues. UK-wide, the problem is particularly acute in the finance, accountancy and legal sectors, where more than a third worry about their work colleagues finding out about their gambling.

The study, from employment agency Reed in Partnership, revealed that those with management responsibility are more likely to have gambled in the past year than those without management responsibility. Meanwhile, almost three quarters of people surveyed think that businesses should be concerned about the negative impact of gambling on their employees.

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The study found that 3 per cent of people knew someone who had lost their job due to their gambling habit.

The unemployed are twice as likely to use the controversial “fixed odds” getting terminals, one of the major growth areas for high street betting shops, as those who are in work. With an estimated 35,000 machines across the UK, bets of up to £100 can be placed every 20 seconds, meaning a problem gambler could lose up to £1,500 in five minutes.

Martin Fallon, managing director of Reed in Partnership said: “It’s important that we provide adequate support and guidance for those who are at risk of losing their jobs because of gambling, and those whose addiction is stopping them from getting back into the workplace.

“At the same time fixed odds betting terminals, which are particularly attractive to the unemployed, have such high limits that you could lose one month’s worth of Job Seeker’s Allowance in less than one minute.”

In Scotland, MSPs have called for fixed odds betting terminals to be banned. In December, the Scottish Parliament’s local government and regeneration committee said the machines – known as the “crack cocaine of gambling” – were so harmful they should be outlawed from the high street.

Gambling charity Gamcare said that people should be aware of leisure gambling slipping into “problem gambling”.

Spokeswoman Catherine Sweet said: “We acknowledge that for many, gambling is not a harmful activity and can be a fun leisure pastime. For some it can become a serious problem, and we believe it’s important for people to properly understand the risks associated with gambling. If someone is spending more time or money on gambling than they would like to, support is available.”