Britain’s largest union, Unite, today (Monday 5 November) warned of a gambling machine epidemic gripping Britain’s betting shops, leading to staff being abused and threatened as customers become addicted and chase their losses.
The warning comes ahead of tonight’s Panorama programme ‘Gambling Nation’, which hears from industry insiders who say violence and frustration, linked to fast-paced high-stake gambling machines is on the increase in Britain’s high street betting shops.
The union - which represents over 1,000 William Hill workers - is calling for the Commons Culture, Media and Sport committee to review the use and impact of gambling machines in betting shops. Unite is also urging the committee to revisit its backing to allow more than four gambling machines in every bookmakers.
Commenting, Unite national officer Jennie Formby said: “These gambling machines are causing utter misery for staff and turning customers who used to enjoy a few bets on the horses into gambling machine addicts.
“The atmosphere in betting shops has changed with members telling us they are being verbally abused and threatened on a daily basis with customers kicking and smashing the screens of the machines as their losses mount.
“Staff are suffering in silence with many of these incidents going unreported officially for fear they will lose their jobs. The industry desperately needs to get its house in order.
“We urge the Commons Culture, Media and Sport committee to urgently review the use and impact of gambling machines in bookies across the country to stop the misery.”
For further information contact the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065, or Alex Flynn, Unite head of media and campaigns, on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665 869.
Notes to editors:
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.