It is one of the longest street of shops in Hull but scattered between the greasy spoon cafés, charity shops and boutiques there is a very different type of shop in Holderness Road - bookmakers.
Traditional betting shops are a staple of the British high street but there are some areas of the UK where you will find more than others - and Hull is one of those places.
For the first time in Hull, council officials have started looking at gambling as a public health issue. They have already estimated up to 13,000 people in the city are currently at risk of developing a serious gambling addiction.
Another 3,600 are already likely to be problem gamblers.
And while the traditional bookmakers may be being replaced - or merely supplemented - by online betting and iPhone apps, a wander down Holderness Road midweek shows the betting shop business is very much alive down the east Hull street.
Within a short distance there are three betting shops and two casinos including a William Hills, Bet Fred, Ladbrokes, two Cashinos and an Admiral.
The Cashino opens 24 hours a day, attracting constant day and night trade, with the betting shops also opening at least 12 hours a day from 8.30am or 9am.
Issues associated with gambling range from physical and mental ill-health, to domestic violence, child abuse and substance misuse.
'I've lost thousands'
One man, who does not want to be named, said that he had "lost thousands" to gambling over the years.
"I’ve lost thousands over the years but I still keep going back to the bookies to play on the horses," he said.
"I just go in and have a bet and it’s a form of enjoyment and a bit of a hobby in a way. It’s like a challenge for me really and I get a big kick out of the wins and just try not to dwell on the losses.
"It’s the bookies that are the millionaires after all though isn’t it and I know that but it won’t stop me doing it.
"I don’t do slots or anything like that and I think there are far too many of these slots places, I don’t know how they all get licences."
'I just can't help myself'
Another man, who did not want to be named, uses betting shops to bet on sports matches and the horses. He said he could "not help himself" from trying to win money.
He said: "I've been betting ever since I can remember. My dad used to bet and I used to go along with him and then I started with the habit as well when I grew up and started earning my own money, I started to go in and place a bet too.
"At first I wouldn't go that often, but then I started to get to know the staff in there and other customers and as I got older I went in more for the social side and appreciated the free drinks in there and people to chat to.
"But of course, you don't just go in a bookies to chat.
"I've put a lot of money on game predictions that never came off and horses that have never won and I don't want to even think of how much money has gone down the drain that I could have spent on other things like holidays, but I just can't help myself.
"The highs that I can get from a win are so good and something I keep wanting to have over and over again that I just keep coming back to bet.
"I always think that I can just win my money back or break even by putting on another bet, but it doesn't always work out that way as what you are betting on is never certain.
"I'd probably say yes, I do have a problem, but it's not something that I want to do anything about."
Being a compulsive gambler can harm your health and relationships, and leave you in serious debt.
If you have a problem with gambling and you'd like to stop, support and treatment is available.
There's evidence that gambling can be successfully treated in the same way as other addictions. Cognitive behaviour therapy usually has the best results.
Treatment and support groups are available for people who want to stop gambling:
GamCare offers free information, support and counselling for problem gamblers in the UK.
It runs the National Gambling Helpline (0808 8020 133) and also offers face-to-face counselling.
National Problem Gambling Clinic
If you are aged 16 or over and have complex problems related to gambling, you can refer yourself to this specialist NHS clinic for problem gamblers.
Gordon Moody Association
The Gordon Moody Association offers residential courses for men and women who have problems with gambling – email [email protected] or call 01384 241292 to find out more.
It also runs the Gambling Therapy website, which offers online support to problem gamblers and their friends and family.
Gamblers Anonymous UK
Gamblers Anonymous UK runs local support groups that use the same 12-step approach to recovery from addiction as Alcoholics Anonymous. There are also GamAnon support groups for friends and family.
Self-help tips for problem gamblers
'Some people do have problems with gambling'
One woman who works in a betting shop in Holderness Road admitted some customers do have a problem with addiction.
She said: "We just get normal people in really and we do get our regulars that I think just come in for the company sometimes.
"I think some people do have problems with gambling and don't know when to stop until their money literally runs out, but we have a duty for that.
"One of the casinos is even 24 hours and people are coming in at all hours, especially if they've had a drink and then put money on the games or slots.
"I don’t bet myself and just use the tanning machines if I ever go inside one of the bigger ones."
'Gambling is a filthy habit'
Gambling was described as a "filthy habit" by one passerby near a bookies.
Elsie Brooks said: "I think gambling is a complete waste of time and money. You never win do you, and there’s far too many betting shops around Holderness Road.
"It's a filthy habit and worse than smoking or drinking, which are at least sort of sociable in a way.
"I've never put a single bet on in my life and I never would".
'I always set myself a limit'
Sheila Brentwood said she started off going in the casinos to play bingo and then started to put money on the slots, but says that she is sensible and "always sets a limit".
"I’ve gone in to play on the bingo before in the casino and then started putting a bit of money on the slots," she said.
"I don't think that I have a problem though or that betting shops or casinos in Holderness Road are a problem.
"I always set myself a limit and people enjoy putting a bet on or going to the casino and I'm sure that lots of people do the same, so I really don't see an issue with it at all."
What the council is doing
City councillor Shane McMurray recently spoke candidly about how his own gambling habit spiralled out of control after a relationship breakdown as colleagues on a scrutiny committee were briefed on the work being done of the authority's public health team.
As part of their work, public health officials have collated first-hand accounts from staff in Hull working with people affected by problem gambling in an attempt to gain a wider understanding of its impact on people and families.
Here, in their own words, are some of what they were told.
"My client used to be a drug user. She stopped the drugs and started on the scratch cards because she believed she wasn't spending as much money on scratch cards as she was on drugs.
"This has now gone from scratch cards to online gambling. She is a very addictive person"
The next fix
"Debt advice is often no use to clients who have a gambling addiction. Until they are managing their addiction it's difficult to help them. As an advisor, I'm not as big an influence on the client compared to their next fix.
"This applies to any addict, whether they are addicted to alcohol, drugs or gambling."
"I was working with a parent of two who was working as an assistant manager in a professional job, recently separated from the mother of his children because of his gambling.
"He had mental health issues and says he gambles online because he is lonely. He doesn't want to speak to his family and doesn't feel like socialising. He has over £3,000 in rent arrears and some council tax arrears."
"I worked with a 26-year-old who committed suicide. He disclosed he had a gambling problem as part of the assessment process for referral to the tenancy sustainment team.
"He had other debts such as utilities and no longer had a gas supply.
"Along with his gambling, he also had substance misuse and mental health issues but had disengaged with mental health services over time.
"He was referred to a range of different services such as the local Gamcare counselling service, the Citizens Advice Bureau , substance misuse services and mental health services but did not engage with any of them."
"I had a client who lived on his own in a council property in receipt of a state pension, occupational pension and also in receipt of industrial injuries payments.
"He also had hoarding behaviours. I remember he had five microwaves. He also suffered from low mood and was socially isolated.
"He acknowledged his gambling was a problem and has discussed self-exclusion from betting offices but is reluctant to accept offers of professional support and has refused to be referred to mental health services.
Online gambling and women
"Over the last few years there's been a noticeable shift in that there's more female gamblers than there used to be.
"It's not just about men going into the bookies anymore, I've seen women run up huge debts online using several credit cards.
"These women have never been to a betting shop in their lives but I've seen women who have maxed out four credit cards, spending £20,000 online without having to leave the house."
Hooked on online bingo
"The way people gamble has shifted. Previously it was mostly men getting into debt gambling in betting shops but now the trend is changing and we're seeing women getting hooked on online bingo sites.
"It doesn't mean the issue has lessened with regards to men but we are just seeing more women having issues as well."
"I worked with a single mum with four children that played online bingo and used online bingo to try and get some money for Christmas.
"She lost her remaining money and her parents had to run her finances after that point, paying bills and buying Christmas gifts for the children. The gambling created tension within the family and the grandmother said that her daughter 'doing this again’ made her own mental health problems worse."
A £400 a week habit
“I had a case of a lady who worked for the council, recently split from her husband, going through a divorce and had health issues. She was brought in to sign up for a property and she brought in her bank statements and she had blanked out all of the bingo transactions for online gambling.
"I could see on the back they were for online gambling, about £400 per week, and she was ashamed of it but at the time it wasn’t challenged. She did not take the property in the end."
"I discovered a client had a gambling problem back in 2014 via bank statements, which showed a lot of online gambling.
"This was discussed with her and I referred her to Citizens Advice Bureau who helped her get a full bankruptcy because she owed so much money. She is also ex-army and was able to get her fees paid.
Watch: Help for problem gambling
"In 2019, she was referred again as she owed £4,000 in rent. She was very honest and said she was gambling again, running up various debts.
"She was moving in the right direction and went to CAB but she had a falling out with her mum. She has pushed all her family away again, there has been non-payment of rent and she is starting to make excuses not to see me again."
A violent gambler
"Mine was a perpetrator of domestic violence who was gambling. It came out when we were doing direct work and we were looking at the power of control wheel and the financial abuse, the gambling was brought up in that.
"It was really problematic in terms of him taking his children’s electrical items and he sold the washing machine at one point. His partner got herself into a lot of debt replacing things which he would go and sell again. She was in a complete cycle of having to replace the items needed for the household because of his gambling.
"She has now ended the relationship and to my knowledge, he still continues in the cycle with his family and friends."
Drugs and gambling
"The son is a drug user as well as a gambler. He he would turn up at the house demanding money, being really abusive, and march his mother to the cash machine for money.
"He has taken various items out of the house, broken into the house and taken items. The neighbour rang her once to tell her he was walking down the street with her fridge. Not sure if this was related to the substance misuse or the gambling but he was into both.
"She is in debt and has a doorstep loan. She has moved into temporary accommodation but now has everything to replace. As the mother, she takes all the responsibility and blame and perceives herself as a crap mum."
An abusive relationship
"The [domestic violence] perpetrator was a gambler. They lost their house over it and moved in with his brother due to him gambling all the time.
"When she tried to address the issue he got annoyed and she said if she spoke to his friends they wouldn’t believe her because of his profession. He presented very well at work and it was hard to believe he gambled.
"A lot of the time it was fuelled by alcohol. If he lost he would drink more. He was gambling in the betting shops but she didn’t know what he was gambling on or how much. Most of his wage would go on that and she would have to hide her card in order to pay bills."
"He [the perpetrator] used to like going to the betting shop. The scenario was the day before the benefits came through, if there was £2 or £3 left he would go and make her go to the betting shop and bet on a long shot.
"if she didn’t bring a slip back the domestic abuse was really intense so she had to put the bet on knowing she would lose some money so they had no money but if she didn’t provide the proof that she had placed the bet the level of abuse was really dramatic.
"He had that control and it was almost quite twisted, it was like that final bit of money was something he could just throw away. It was almost a ritual.
"He was really into gambling. He used to make her do that final walk to lose that last few pounds, she had to bet on that particular horse.
"He gambled constantly but she had to lose that last bit of money, it was a strange ritual. She said the whole emotion of that journey to the betting shop was awful as they needed rent, milk and essentials, tea for when her son came home from school. She said he might as well have just put it down the drain."
The author of this article, Anna Riley, has been a reporter at Hull Live since May 2018. Her interests include first person feature writing, human interest stories and breaking news.
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