Barking and Dagenham is one of the most deprived areas of London and These factors mean that Barking and Dagenham is particularly susceptible to the negative effects of gambling. Between 2011 and 2016, the number of betting shops located in the borough increased by 21 per cent (from 38 to 46).
In response to this proliferation, and following the release of their consultation, “Evening the odds: curbing the proliferation of betting shops” in 2012, in which the council set out a 400 metre exclusion zone between betting shops, the borough attempted to restrict the number of new betting shops. However, success was limited.
Data – Insight Hub: In October 2016, Barking and Dagenham established the “Insight Hub”, to embed and make better use of data in the design of local policy. The Insight Hub is a team of data and behavioural scientists that
enable the council to predict future demand on services, develop local residential and community understanding, and introduce behavioural science techniques into the delivery of interventions.
Data and Gambling Licensing: While the Insight Hub’s research has been successfully used by the council to help determine elements of its gambling licensing policy, using the data gathered by the group to gain a better
understanding of the impact local betting shops can have on gambling addiction, the initial work was inspired by the approach taken by Westminster their work with Geofutures. Area Profiles: The model took in demographics, the proximity
of schools and colleges to betting shops, local mental health problems, and the presence of homeless shelters, food banks and payday loan shops.
The council’s approach incorporated the use of Quality and Outcome Framework materials, made available by the NHS, to integrate clinical data in to their modelling. Through a residence matrix and the use of the IMD, they were also able to collate ethnicity data and deprivation levels into their work. Using tree-based models to come up with the spatial indices, z-scores (which indicate how many standard deviations an element is from the mean) to normalise the data, the kernel density estimations to approximate how many vulnerable people were living close to the betting shops, allowed the council to understand where the most vulnerable people in the borough were located. This data was collated in their Area Profiles.
Cost to society: The Insight Hub also sought to estimate the costs of gambling to the borough. For this, the group borrowed the format set out in IPPR’s study, “Cards on the Table”, which delves in to the effects and consequences of problem gambling, including excess fiscal costs. Although the direct costs are not available or easily measurable, problem gambling’s status as comorbidity allows estimation of the associated costs.