Public Health England Dubs Knowsley as “Gambling Capital” of UK

A new study by Public Health England has picked the borough of Knowsley as the gambling capital of the United Kingdom. And yet, this title doesn’t really inspire as the area is also one of the most deprived regions, suffering from chronic poverty and a bevy of social issues.

According to the report, residents of Knowsley are far more likely to gamble than anyone else in the country, and they do with a more pronounced frequency. Knowsley inhabitants are far more likely to participate in games of chance, and they do at significantly higher levels compared to 19 other surveyed local authority areas in the country.

To put things in perspective, it’s estimated that 80% of the people in Knowsley have gambled in the 12 months leading up to the publication of the survey with comparative numbers still high, but lower in areas such as Liverpool (68%), Wirral (67%), Sefton (65%), and St Helens (60%).

While the average number of gamblers is high across the country, Knowsley seems to have a small epidemic of the activity which is often touted as recreational but seems to be practiced more by those in a difficult financial or social situation. The report similarly argues that there are areas of the country where only 23% of the residents gamble.

Half of the 34 betting shops in Knowsley are located in Huyton, with Kirkby and Halewood, Prescot, Whiston and Stockbridge hosting at least one venue.

Harmful Gambling Practices Impacts Poorer Regions

The report attests to at least a perceived link between problem gambling and financial and social destitute as exemplified by Knowsley, an area with failing economy that has nevertheless the highest rate of gambling of all surveyed areas.

However, the report also makes an important clarification that disadvantaged groups are far less likely to gamble, but are the most susceptible to gambling harm:

 “The most socio-economically deprived and disadvantaged groups in England have the lowest gambling participation rates, but the highest levels of harmful gambling and they are also the most susceptible to harm.”

Public Health England report

This does not completely explain how Knowsley can have such a high level of gambling while exhibiting social and economical malaise at the same time. Rather, the report argues that if there is no intervention to improve that, problem gambling is going to leave to more economical inequalities in the borough.

The Problem Is Known in Knowsley

Yet, the borough is not oblivious of this plight. In fact, Knowsley Council has been working on solutions. Consumer protection officer with the Council, Alan Shone, addressed the matter with urgency earlier this year and a basic framework has been put forward. The Council will seek to fight the issue step-by-step.

The Council first proposes to address and target any illegal gambling operations that may be currently running outside of the 34 known and licensed companies. Officials also want to start building a detailed map across the borough to identify where gambling harm occurs and who is impacted.

The Public Health team and Council’s Licensing service are also working on an area profile for the borough that will help identify potential solutions that can be applied across the region as well as on per-case basis.

Special attention will be given to those areas that need more help to overcome some of the issues brought on by problem gambling.

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