A study, which uses Gambling Commission data, reveals that 61% of Paddy Power’s 349 betting shops are located in areas with above average levels of non-UK born population such as Newham and Brent in London, Luton and Leicester and parts of Birmingham.
By comparison, only a third of William Hill’s shops and just a quarter of BetFred’s 1,375 shops are located in these areas.
Each betting shop is allowed to have up to four FOBTs – described as the “crack cocaine of gambling” – which allow stakes of up to £100 to be laid on casino games with a maximum delay of just 20 seconds between wagers.
Charities have repeatedly warned about high levels of problem gambling in minority ethnic communities, citing evidence from the government’s own gambling prevalence surveys.
A study for the Responsible Gambling Trust in 2014 said there were concerns that “the odds of being an at-risk gambler were higher among non-white ethnic groups, being around 2.6-3 times higher among those from black/black British and Asian/Asian British ethnic groups”.
The Irish bookmaker, which has betting company BetFair to create the biggest publicly-listed online gaming company, collects about £1,300 of profit per machine compared with rivals which only manage about £1,000.
Labour’s mayoral candidate, Sadiq Khan, has made the issue part of his campaign and said he was “extremely disturbed” by the results.
“Almost every area of London with high non-UK-born populations has been targeted by them – not just one or two shops, but dozens in the same areas and in some cases on the same high streets,” he said.
“It is disgraceful behaviour and reinforces why we must deal with the proliferation of betting shops in disadvantaged areas, and the addictive roulette machines which can cause so much misery.”
Last year FOBTs, which are disproportionately found in poorer parts of Britain, generated £1.7bn of revenues for bookmakers. Politicians of every party have been alarmed by the rise of the machines.