Gambling, and betting shops in particular, have had a long association with the very fabric of this here land. You can imagine Henry VIII popping in Ye Olde William Hill back in the day to check the odds on what the fate of his next wife would be. Even Queen Victoria may have popped in the local factory’s branch of Ladbrokes to check on what the figure will be at her next weigh in. London’s modern day residents don’t seem to be carrying on with this.
Residents in the North London borough of Haringey already took the gambling business to task in their area. This has resulted in a public consultation, taking place on Wednesday of this week. People in Haringey have already ignored the fact that William Hill’s HQ is in close proximity to the borough so would it be any surprise if angry mobs set fire to betting shops in the area? Sadly, after this they might realise that the increase in people loitering around the streets with bottles of White Ace cider and small pieces of paper wasn’t really worth it.
The fact that another part of Central London have got themselves all pissed off is hardly any surpsise then.
Folks in China Town have gone all “chicken oriental” over Betfred’s plans to open a branch on Gerrard Street – a mere 100 metres away from one of their current locations. The pressure group, London Citizens, have already protested outside the proposed location and are unhappy at the amount of gambling establishments in the area.
It’s true that William Hill, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, and Coral all have premises in the near vicinity but surely, Betfred just want to add to the competition.
London Ciitzens obviously don’t think so.Nikki Lee, of London Citizens, said: “I’m disgusted that in spite of a petition of 76 names and evidence to highlight the vulnerability in the area, Westminster City Council did not refuse this latest bid to open another betting shop in our community.”
Whilst donning her favourite puritan’s outfit, Ms Lee did stop short of complete prohibition but did go on to say that “enough was enough,” and they “couldn’t take anymore.”
Councillor Brian Connell from Westmister City Council went on to explain: “Whilst we are aware of the issues surrounding gambling addiction and its dreadful consequences, I cannot see how a handful of extra betting shops in an area like the West End is a significant contributory factor, particularly with the easy availability of online gambling.”
Cllr Connell is obviously slightly better versed in the whole area than that nice lady above, Ms Lee. Recognising that access to online gambling being easy may well be the first step on the way to educating these people that betting shops really don’t contribute that much – god forbid they bring jobs to the area.
Betfred themselves are obviously happy to be bringing their unique brand of shop to the area. Betfred spokesman Mark Pearson told us: “We are delighted to have been granted a license in Gerrard Street and we will offer genuine competition and a real alternative to the other operators in the area. We are independent and we will offer customers far better value.”
The company at the centre of the events in Haringey also had a comment to make in relation to the ongoing situation in London.
“There have always been a small number of objectors to betting shops, just as there are to virtually every other element of daily life in a democracy. However, as a legal, respectable, regulated company, we are fully entitled to open betting shops where we elect to do so, provided we go through the correct legal procedures, as we invariably do,” said Graham Sharpe, spokesperson for William Hill.
He continued: “Those who object need not use the facilities – and if too few people used them then they would soon become former betting shops, I should imagine.”
As our article went to press we contacted hadn’t received reply from Ladbrokes, Gala Coral, or Paddy Power on whether the pressure groups would affect their strategy in London. It’s likely this issue will roll on though and an end doesn’t look as though it’s in sight.