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27 July 2015, 06:18
A new scheme allowing anyone with a gambling problem to exclude themselves from high street betting shops is due to launch in Glasgow city centre.
For the first time in Scotland, people will be able to call a confidential helpline to request to be refused service at any of 36 participating betting shops regardless of the operator.
Previously gamblers have only been able to exclude themselves from one betting shop at a time and have been required to fill in forms for each different operator.
The scheme will allow people to choose which shops they want to be excluded from, such as those close to their homes or workplaces.
It will only be available to gamblers in the city centre but people will be able to exclude themselves from shops outside that area with participating bookmakers.
The helpline will also provide information on how to get help and counselling to deal with a gambling problem.
The three month pilot will be launched by participating bookmakers, alongside the Association of British Bookmakers and Glasgow city councillors.
Malcolm George, chief executive of the Association, said: "This is a very important step towards helping problem gamblers in Glasgow stay in control, and get the help they need.
"High street betting operators want all customers to enjoy their leisure time and gamble responsibly.
"We also want to help those who may be getting into difficulties, and this scheme is a big step forward to achieving that. In addition, it will directly shape the UK-wide scheme that will begin next year.''
Councillor Paul Rooney, Glasgow's city treasurer and chairman of a cross-party group on gambling, said: "We simply don't know enough about how problem gambling effects individuals, families and communities - either here in Glasgow or anywhere else in the UK.
"However, this project breaks new ground in terms of the industry sharing information, both between operators and, crucially, with their regulator.
"Only time will tell if it will offer more effective support for Glaswegians who are struggling with their gambling here and now - but I also want to ensure the city uses this opportunity to gain a better understanding of who finds their gambling become a problem; how they try and cope with that, and to what extent they are able to bring it under control.''