The number of gambling businesses in West Lothian remained steady in 2018, despite national concerns about increasing numbers of people suffering from gambling addiction.
The area has 35 gambling businesses, according to the register of businesses held by the ONS.
The gambling sector includes casinos and amusement arcades, but the Gambling Commission estimates that about three quarters of businesses are betting shops.
Nationally, the UK’s high streets had 11,470 gambling businesses in 2018, about one per cent more than the previous year.
In 2010, there were 11,790 venues of this type across the country.
Marc Etches, chief executive of the charity Gamble Aware, believes that the rising use of smartphones has given people easy access to online sports betting, casino games and slots.
He said: “Retailing is moving from the high street to online, and gambling is no different.
“If you’re a problem gambler, it’s likely you could be gambling in a variety of different ways, be it in a bookmakers, online, or in a casino.
“Having a highly regulated and fair environment for gambling, where ever, or how ever it might be, is essential, and customer safety should always be of the utmost importance.”
There are 55,000 children classed as having a gambling problem in Britain, according to the Gambling Commission.
Ben Haden, Gambling Commission’s programme director for Industry Insight said: “This year we have implemented new rules to strengthen age and ID verification checks.
“We’ve also been working with partners in financial institutions to develop the role they can play to protect vulnerable consumers.”
Data from the Gambling Commission shows that from October 2017 to September 2018, the gambling industry in the UK made £14.5 billion in profit, with a third of it coming from online gambling.
But the Association of British Bookmakers has warned that some businesses may be forced to shut down for good, putting jobs at risk.
It blames the Government’s clampdown on fixed odds machines, cutting the maximum bet from £100 to £2 every 20 seconds.
A spokesperson from the association said: “There will be a significant impact on the number of shops and people employed in our industry as a result of the stake cut but bookies will remain the home of traditional betting.
“We anticipate that between 3,000 and 4,000 betting shops will close on high streets and in town centres across the country by 2020. As a result 15,000 to 20,000 high street jobs could be lost.
“High street betting shops also face similar issues to other retailers, like competition from other forms of gambling, and the increasing costs of rent and business rates.”
To avoid identifying individual businesses the ONS has rounded the numbers.