Betting shops

Gambling companies in the UK are facing widespread scrutiny as a BBC Panorama programme reveals the number of complaints in the industry has risen 5,000% since 2013.

Figures from the Gambling Commission show just 169 complaints were made in 2013. Last year, however, that number rose to 8,266. It mirrors the increase in gambling in the UK, mainly driven by the accessibility of bettings apps.

Panorama found that the majority of complaints were related to betting firms refusing to pay out on winning bets, or for failing to act in a socially responsible way.

Neil McArthur, chief executive of the Gambling Commission, said: “We are pushing the industry to know its customers, and part of this is actually, possibly, a good sign because it’s suggesting that consumers are demanding more of the gambling operators. And I would encourage them to continue to do that.”

The average gambler is now losing nearly twice as much as 10 years ago, with a total of £14.5 billion being lost in 2018.

The industry has faced growing pressure to act more responsibly as the amount of money being lost and number of those with gambling addictions increase. The big betting companies say they have already committed £60 million a year to help addicts and reduce the harmful impact of gambling.

In recent years, the government has introduced a crackdown on fixed-odds betting terminals, restricting the maximum bet from £100 to £1. But the Gambling Commission said it has no plans to introduce maximum stakes on online or mobile platforms, claiming companies have enough information to keep players safe.

Some bookmakers get in contact with customers when large bets are placed to ensure they can afford to lose that money. However, some argue this practice does not take place when customers are continually losing smaller amounts.