Most betting shop customers are gambling responsibly

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We believe that the article “Sheffield gamblers lose estimated £12m in addictive gambling machines”, (The Star, March 25)contains inaccuracies.

The figures cited use the turnover figures. There are no accurate numbers of how many people in a particular area are gamblers. Business is measured on numbers of slips or the number of gaming machine sessions.

The most accurate financial measure is gross win (what operators make at profit and what customers lose in net terms).

The correct data, compiled straight from all gaming machines around the UK, shows that the average loss per gaming machine session in Sheffield Central is £5.58, Sheffield South East £6.37, Sheffield Brightside and Hills is £5.28, a gaming machine session in Sheffield Hallam is £5.93 and Sheffield Heeley £5.26.

These figures demonstrate that most customers are enjoying a perfectly legal leisure activity, responsibly.

Just 1 per cent of customers start betting at the £100 stake level cited here, a figure rising to 3 per cent when winnings are recycled into the gaming machine.

The reality is that problem gambling levels in England and Wales are low by international standards, and have remained under 1 per cent for over a decade.

However, we recognise there are real concerns about machines. We have listened closely and are moving to address them.

Over the past year we have committed to 20 per cent of all shop windows to be dedicated to responsible gambling messages and have removed all advertising of gaming machines from shop windows.

We have committed to a long-term responsible gambling campaign, with four of the major operators forming the Senet Group, to promote responsible gambling and to hold the industry to account.

Hilary Douglas

Campaigns director, Association of British Bookmakers