The former Treasury minister and Labour MP for East Ham, Stephen Timms, has taken to the stands at Thames magistrate court to give evidence in the case between Paddy Power and Newham Council; and it’s not good news for the Irish funsters.
“The proliferation of these shops and these very addictive terminals within them is destroying people’s lives. We are seeing families broken up and houses repossessed.
“What happens is that people who lose money in the shops become very angry. I’m told Paddy Power has had to upgrade the robustness of the machines because people so often try to bash them up. And that is what often spills out on to the high street.” Timms told the court.
Timms also added that it was the betting shops that were attracting anti-social behavior and street drinking? Interestingly, I was of the opinion that anti-social behavior is brought on by a lack of facilities for kids to actually do anything sensible to burn off energy, street drinking was due to excessively low alcohol prices and the violence in the street was brought on by excessive drinking in our pubs and clubs. But if you want to blame the roulette machines for the advent of WWIII then go ahead.
This sorry saga came about after Newham Council defended its decision to dismiss an application for a new Paddy Power betting shop, despite there already being 81-betting shops in the area. The refusal to hand Paddy Power a license has been made on the grounds that the shop will make more money from it’s gaming machines than the traditional methods of blowing your money on sports & horse betting. This argument extends to say that using the shop as a gaming establishment, rather than a gambling establishment, contravenes the 2005 Gambling Act. A point that if proven to be accurate could mean the need to close all 81-shops or the removal of gambing machines from every bookmaker in the country.
Ian Corbett, chairman of the council’s licensing sub-committee said that a team of private investigators revealed that four out of every five pounds was spent on the roulette machines and not the pastime of greyhounds and horses. Quite how winning or losing on horses and dogs differs by donating it to a machine is beyond me, but it seems the council have the gloves on and are not likely to throw in the towel anytime soon.
The District Judge for the case, Paul Goldspring, has declined to hear the evidence collated by the Magnum P.I style investigators and this interesting case continues.