Gambling is an industry that feasts on the poor and vulnerable | Helen Pidd | Opinion | The Guardian

Gambling is an industry that feasts on the poor and vulnerable | Helen Pidd | Opinion | The Guardian
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As the betting addict who went on a rampage in Liverpool pointed out, bar staff don’t pour pints for people who have had too many. Why can’t the government rein in the bookies’ relentless growth?

As the betting addict who went on a rampage in Liverpool pointed out, bar staff don’t pour pints for people who have had too many. Why can’t the government rein in the bookies’ relentless growth?

It is not often that I feel sorry for a vandal, let alone a violent one armed with a hammer, but when Eric Baptista went on a rampage in Liverpool recently he had my sympathies. A problem gambler, he says he had begged to be barred from all of his local bookies, but that they refused to stop serving him. He was too good a customer, regularly losing £400 in a matter of minutes on the fixed-odds machines.

In May, Baptista took drastic action. If the wretched betting shops wouldn’t stop taking his business, he would put them out of business, he reasoned. He had lost yet another £100 in the William Hill on Aigburth Road when a circuit in his brain tripped. He went next door to buy two tins of black paint and set about smearing it over everything he could see. He didn’t stop there, visiting six other branches over a three-week period, causing £36,000 of damage by smashing up betting terminals, TV screens and gambling machines.

Last month, he pleaded guilty to criminal damage and was given a 12-month suspended sentence and ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid community work. Liverpool crown court heard that during one of his rampages he shouted: “This is a protest. I am sorry; there is no safety net for customers.”

For many addicts, data harvesting is less of a problem than the fact they can’t go to buy a pint of milk without walking past a betting shop – or its enabling cousin, the pawn shop. It is depressing how many of our once-great towns can no longer sustain even an M&S and are instead plagued by bookies, pawn shops and stores selling washing machines for “just” £5.50 a week (twice the high-street price at the end of the typical 156-week payment plan). Just as you can tell an area is gentrifying when the plantation blinds and bi-fold doors appear, you know it is going in the other direction when a street gets more than one bookie and a Cash Generator or a BrightHouse.

 

Gambling is an industry that feasts on the poor and vulnerable | Helen Pidd | Opinion | The Guarn industry that feasts on the poor and vulnerable | Helen Pidd | Opinion | The Guardian

Started working in the Casino Industry in 1985, just never managed to leave as yet. Visited 99% of all UK Casinos, seen them all,

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