Brent residents gambled away more than £400m last year
- Credit: Archant
Figures from parts of the borough are amongst the worst in the country
Shocking new figures have revealed how the borough’s residents have spent more than £400million on gambling – with parts of Brent amongst the worst in the country.
Parliamentary seat Brent Central came second out of the 632 constituencies surveyed when comparing money spent with those on unemployment benefits.
The area, which includes Harlesden, Willesden, Stonebridge, Neasden and parts of Wembley, has more than 5,000 people claiming unemployment benefits yet still spent more than £216million in the last year.
Brent Central has 40 betting shops and around 150 fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) – highly addictive machines, offering games such as roulette, blackjack and poker – according to data released by the Gambling Commission and campaign group Fairer Gambling (FG).
Adrian Parkinson, a spokesperson for FG, said the figures were ‘truly shocking.’ He told the Times: “For one constituency to have 40 betting shops operating 146 high speed, high stake, hard core gaming machines onwhich we estimate £216million was gambled, is truly shocking.”
Brent North, which includes Wembley Central, Northwick Park and Sudbury wards, also spent £205million, bringing the total across Brent borough to more than £420million
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The total is far higher than neighbouring authorities such as Harrow, Ealing and Barnet, and Brent Central was beaten only by West Ham in East London for the amount spent, based on unemployment figures.
Mr Parkinson added: “These are easily accessible on Brent’s high streets with bookmakers opening multiple shops to suck money out of the poorest communities.”
In Hampstead and Kilburn, which includes Kilburn High Road, an area that has been singled out for its surge in betting shops, more than £140million was spent at 98 FOBTs and 27 shops.
Brent Council has also expressed concern about the rise in betting shops and legal loan companies and recently backed a campaign by Stella Creasy, the shadow crime prevention minister, targeting “loan sharks”.
A campaign is also being launched on Monday at Westminster to campaign for machines and betting shops to be restricted.
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