Betting shops often have just one member of staff working in them and the former BBC chairman Lord Grade is leading a committee that is looking to introduce a new legal duty of care.
So, in this weeks blog post we are going to look at how betting shop changes could help protect gamblers and lone workers.
Lone Working In Betting Shops
In 2010 the bookmakers firm Ladbrokes introduced their ‘single-scheduling’ policy. This effectively meant that their betting shops could be manned by a lone worker for certain hours.
As it turned out, this actually meant that in a large number of their shops it was a policy that there would be some hours where it was mandatory to have one lone worker running the shop.
Largely thought to be a policy introduced to save money, “They recognised there were considerable savings to be made. Why double-man a shop between 10 am and 1 pm, or after 6 pm, when it’s quiet?” said an employee at the time.
Single-manning or lone working was rolled out to all Ladbrokes bookmakers shops from 2011 to 2013.
It was reported at the time by the Daily Mirror, that from 2009 to 20011, the amount of wages paid by Ladbrokes was reduced by a third.
The introduction earlier in the 2000s of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) had seen an increase of a younger generation of gamblers, with a wider variety of sports and options to bet on, instead of the traditional older generation who mainly queued to place bets on horse races.
Unlike their predecessors the fruit machines, FOBTs could take much bigger amounts of money. In fact, until changes were made to FOBTs, they could take £100 every 20 seconds.
(This was changed by the government to £50 every 20 seconds)
More bets being placed meant more losing bets and more losing bets meant more angry customers.
Attacks On Bookmakers
If you google ‘attacks on bookmakers’, it won’t take you very long to see how prevalent these crimes are.
Police statistics obtained by the BBC showed that violent crime in betting shops in Britain increased by 9% between 2008 and 2011.
Through a freedom of information request by the Liberal Democrats, it was reported that there have been 110 violent crimes at betting shops in the West Midlands since 2014.
Tim Farron, a previous leader of the Liberal Democrats said: “This violence is down, in part, due to Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. This is something we are seeing in the West Midlands and across the country. These machines are highly addictive.
“They inevitably lead to customers losing more than they can afford and losing control. The government recently dropped a review into these machines and now many more people will pay the price.”
So, you can see that the introduction and popularity of FOBTs alongside the increase of lone working in bookmakers made the chances of being attacked at work were higher than ever before.
A New Legal Duty Of Care
The former head of the BBC, Lord Grade, is leading a committee looking to see how betting shop changes could help protect gamblers and lone workers.
“Lone working is a question. It all comes under some sort of duty of care,” said Lord Grade.
His committee is going to spend a year looking at the possible damage to society from gambling.
A lone worker in a bookmaker has to man the counter, look for any underage gamblers, try to see problem gamblers and look out for any possible laundering of money all at the same time.
This is just one of the aspects that Lord Grade is looking at that could form part of a new legal duty of care on bookmakers to help protect their staff and to help prevent customers from addiction
He is also looking at making age identification stricter and the introduction of exclusion schemes where bookmakers are able to stop customers who have identified that they have a gambling problem.
He also cited robust age identification to prevent under-aged gambling and effective self-exclusion schemes where gambling operators block users who want to stop betting.
Lord Grade also mentioned that there is a “serious lack of hard evidence” on the size of problem gambling and the ways in which under-aged children were drawn into gambling. “I am particularly interested in the pathways to gambling,” he said.
The other members of the committee will include Lord Butler, the former Cabinet Secretary, LSE professor Lord Layard, Rt Rev Alan Smith, the Bishop of St Albans and two former cabinet ministers Lord Foster and Baroness Armstrong.
For more information on gambling and the gambling industry, BBC Radio 4 has an excellent three-part series called The Gamble Network that is highly recommended.
we hope that has fully explained how changes in betting shops could help protect gamblers and lone workers.
First2HelpYou Lone Worker Devices
Here at First2HelpYou we have a range of lone worker solutions designed to help keep staff safe.
You can read all about the solutions we can provide on our products page here.