Posted on: November 22, 2021, 08:58h.
Last updated on: November 22, 2021, 08:58h.
A study conducted by the UK’s Public Health England this year determined, according to its findings, which of the country’s boroughs deserves the title of gambling capital. Coming in first place, athough roughly in the middle in terms of population, Knowsley leads the country in gambling activity.
Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council Offices, which are involved in discussions on how to address potential gambling problems in the borough. (Image: Andrew Teebay Liverpool Echo)
According to the study, more people in Knowsley gamble regularly than anywhere else in the country. The borough, with a population of approximately 150,862, is said to be one of the most deprived in the country. Residents are said to experience a host of issues associated with chronic poverty and deprivation.
Gambling Too Popular in Knowsley
According to the report, Knowsley has the highest levels of gambling out of a group of 19 local authority areas with significantly higher gambling levels than anywhere else in the country. Just like everywhere else, though, the borough wants to make sure it doesn’t run into any issues.
In the 12 months prior to the release of the report, almost 80% of people in Knowsley had gambled. In comparison, the rate was 68% in neighboring Liverpool, 67% in Wirral, 65% in Sefton and 60% in St Helens. Some areas of the country have rates as low as 23%, according to the report released by Public Health England.
While regular gambling and problem gambling are not inextricably linked, the report states, “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. So, if there are no interventions to improve this situation, harmful gambling is likely to make existing health inequalities worse.”
For Knowsley, the levels of harm being produced by the past time is a growing cause of concern for the local council. This stems from a combination of being one of the most deprived boroughs in the country and the one with the highest rates of gambling,
Knowsley Undergoing a Transformation
The three-year review of the borough’s gambling licensing policy came up for discussion earlier this year. In an attempt to deal with some of the harmful effects of gambling, the Knowsley Council proposed several changes to its licensing regime, including moving from yearly to six monthly inspections of gambling premises.
At a meeting of the sustainable borough scrutiny committee in September, Knowsley Council’s consumer protection officer, Alan Shone, gave council members a breakdown of the 34 licensed gambling premises in the borough. 17 located in Huyton, nearly half of all betting shops in the borough, 11 in Kirkby and the remainder in Halewood, Prescot, Stockbridge and Whiston.
We also are proposing a change in our regulation and compliance at a local level to include a project detailing how we move forward as far as gambling that is illegal, such as if there’s (sic) any illegal poker games taking place in gambling premises or public houses/ pubs and clubs,” said Knowsley Council Consumer Protection Officer Alan Shone.
Shone added, “We also want to look at the issue of gambling harm and its effects on members of the community and that relates to having a more detailed area profile and mapping of gambling harm across the borough.”
More Changes Coming to Borough Gambling Policies
The local council held a new meeting on Wednesday, November 17, where they considered the recommendations contained within the report. They also explored the findings that are likely to lead to similar programs being implemented elsewhere. The report asserts, “With a view to trying to protect those most at risk from gambling, the Council’s Licensing service and Public Health team are working to develop a detailed local area profile for Knowsley, which can then be used to determine where in the Borough individuals are most likely to be vulnerable to gambling harm.”
This profile will be completed in each electoral ward. That information will then be used to identify areas that are at greater risk of gambling harm. These areas can be targeted for special attention to ensure compliance with the Act in any gambling establishments. They can also then be the focus of resources to help individuals struggling with gambling problems.
The cabinet accepted the report, and the full council will decide whether to approve the resolution on December 15. Spring 2022 will see the results of an in-depth review of the most vulnerable gambling areas in the borough.