I think there are many different types of gamblers, from those who only do the lottery once a week, perhaps do the office Grand National sweepstake etc, to those who really have a problem and can't seem to control it. (I suppose in some ways it's the same as people's approach to alcohol.
I worked with a man in his late twenties who had a real problem, loved the "buzz", only felt it when betting quite large amounts etc. He ended up going to Gamblers Anonymous, did ok, but falls off the wagon occasionally.
I do have an on-line account, but haven't used it for ages. I'm the sort who is quite happy doing 50p each way bets, with a maximum of say, 3 bets a day, a couple of times a week. That way I used to get more fun for my money, if you know what I mean? The most money I have ever put on a horse was at Newton Abbot races, last race of the day, I had £20 left of my allocated money for the day, and put on £10 each way!!! (The horse was one of my favourite trainers, and it's name was Mr (our surname) so it had to be done! Luckily it did win, but I could barely watch!
However racing still forms the mainstay of our social life. Mr P & I meet up with 5 or 6 friends in the pub on Saturday lunchtimes for "Racing Club" We pick 6 televised races, everyone picks a horse and puts £1 in the kitty. After each race the winner gets the pot (if no one has picked the winner, then whoever has the highest placed horse in the first 3 gets the money. If no one is in the first three, it's a rollover!) There are strict rules, whoever won the last race becomes last to pick in the next race, sure fire favourites such as Frankel are taken out of contention and if there are (for example) 6 people playing and only 8 runners, then we draw cards so if you draw an ace, you are allocated horse number one on the racecard etc.
I am secretary and keep the record book, at the end of each month the league table results are announced, and at the end of the year Mr P produces a framed certificate for "Punter of the Year". We all really enjoy it, it does get very competitive but fun, and hasn't seemed to lead anyone astray so far. I have the record books going back to 2004.
With regard to the placing of betting shops, I do agree that they are often most concentrated in areas that seem to be suffering from job shortages and low pay.
I remember when I was travelling to see a client popping into a shopping centre somewhere in (I think) Cheshire. Half the shop units were empty, one of them had been taken over as a Jobcentre, yet within the mall there were 2 betting shops.