A government decision to adopt “virtually all” the high street recommendation put forward by Mary Portas’ could affect betting shops. The woman dubbed “Queen of Shops” put forward a list of 28 items to would improve Britain’s ailing high streets. Among the outlay of taxpayers money and teams of people to run town centres there was a recommendation that betting shops having their own planning label so that “expansion can be tracked more closely”.
We spoke to Betfred spokesperson Mark Pearson who wanted to extend to Portas the opportunity to place a bet in one of their establishments. Well that’s if she isn’t robbed blind whilst standing outside of course.
“We’d obviously disagree that they are the ‘scourge’ on the high street and would love to spend an afternoon entertaining Mary Portas in one of our shops,” Pearson said.
Portas angered the bookmaking industry by claiming bookies are a “blight” on the high street and has tried to let councils stop their proliferation. The reaction was so fierce that even the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) got involved. The problem with Portas’ assertions that betting shops are a “scourge” is that there’s little basis to back up what she’s saying. Dirk Vennix from the ABB explained some 100,000 jobs come from an industry that pays around £1 billion in tax a year and offers hundreds of jobs to those without qualifications. It’s also true that in many towns and cities across the U.K. betting shops are the meeting place for many in the community and without them it just wouldn’t be the same.
In the past Dr Patrick Basham has stated that retirees who “remain active in the community and constantly engage in social activity, often, largely or exclusively through gambling, live happier and healthier lives”. Portas trying to revive the high street is all well and good but by targeting specifically betting shops it won’t do a massive amount.