And finally…Glasgow punters ban themselves from bookies

BookiesGamblers in Glasgow are to be given the opportunity to ban themselves from dozens of the city’s betting shops.

In a pioneering new initiative, problem gamblers will be able to call a confidential helpline to request that they be refused service at any of 36 participating city centre betting shops, regardless of the operator.

Gamblers have previously only been able to exclude themselves from one betting shop at a time and have been required to fill in forms for each different operator, making the new blanket exclusion a first for Scotland.

Glasgow has more betting shops per capita than anywhere else in Britain, with recent figures showing it has 243 betting shops, compared with 186 in Birmingham, the UK’s second biggest city.

The move has been hailed as breaking new ground by campaigners, who have also urged betting shops and their regulatory body to use the trail to get a better understanding of problem gamblers.

Recent figures have shown punters in Scotland lost almost £160 million on controversial fixed odds betting terminals alone during 2014.

The latest scheme will allow people to choose which shops they want to be excluded from, such as those close to their homes or workplaces.

It will only be available to gamblers in the city centre but people will be able to exclude themselves from shops outside that area with participating bookmakers.

The helpline will also provide information on how to get help and counselling to deal with a gambling problem.

The three month pilot will be launched by participating bookmakers, alongside the Association of British Bookmakers and councillors in the city, which has been at the forefront of the campaign for curbs on problem gambling.

Councillor Paul Rooney, Glasgow’s city treasurer and chairman of a cross-party group on gambling, said: “We simply don’t know enough about how problem gambling effects individuals, families and communities, either here in Glasgow or anywhere else in the UK.

“However, this project breaks new ground in terms of the industry sharing information, both between operators and, crucially, with their regulator.

“Only time will tell if it will offer more effective support for Glaswegians who are struggling with their gambling here and now.

“But I also want to ensure the city uses this opportunity to gain a better understanding of who finds their gambling has become a problem; how they try and cope with that, and to what extent they are able to bring it under control.”