Not just you. As well as the rise in gambling culture generally, especially FOBTs, i think the highstreet bookmakers have to some degree replaced locals pubs and social clubs, especially in largely gentrified areas. When i go in them sometimes i’m surprised how busy they are and how for many people it’s not just a chance to bet but a big part of their day. There used to be one shop every couple of square miles, now i could walk to a dozen.
I’ve stood next to people who’ve ploughed thousands of pounds into the machines. It’s not rare to see someone walk in, bung a couple of hundred quid in each one and walk off punching walls within half an hour. Bans don’t serve a purpose because there’s another shop on the next corner. Shop staff talk about helping problem gamblers but managers are incentivised to maximise profits.
Some of the repetitive behaviours you see are horrendous. People pressing buttons and having to do laps of the shops, muttering to themselves, convinced they’re cursed and their problems will be solved if they win a few hundred quid. Lots of people literally sit there all day betting on virtual events - grown-ups in tears or arguing because Horwich Whites beat Merseyside Blues in a two-minute game of Sensible Soccer.
Frightening really, and one thing i especially notice is how the audience is getting younger very quickly. A bookies used to be the domain of older men reading the Racing Post and trying to win a fortune off 50p, now they’re rammed with groups of young lads who think £100’s loose change.