The Stakes Are High

Betting shops are under close scrutiny from Newham Council

Newham Council continues to challenge betting shops in the borough, as the number of crime related incidents increases.

Calling the machines inside betting shops as the “crack cocaine” of gambling, the council has filed a document to limit the amount one can stake. This comes after the borough has seen a 47 per cent increase in betting shops since 2007.

It isn’t the first time Newham has hit the bookmakers hard. In 2014 they refused William Hill a licence to open its nineteenth betting shop in the borough, with concerns that fixed odd betting terminals would be the store’s main source of revenue and not over the counter betting.

Sir Robin Wales, the Mayor of Newham explained that: “We’ll continue to challenge bookies that want to operate in our borough to prove that they will not have a negative impact on our borough and their primary activity is traditional gambling”

In Newham alone, there are currently 84 betting shops (that is over six shops every square mile.) By law each shop is allowed four high stake machines, and FOBTs are currently accounting for 56 percent of bookmaker profits.

In 2015/2016 Newham’s police officers were called to an incident of crime or anti social behaviour at a betting shop, on average 1.2 times per day, an increase from 2014/2015 were it averaged once a day.

November 2013 saw William’s Hill East Ham High Street North branch, hit with tough new conditions after the council was contacted 112 times due to incidents at that store.

A police officer’s report at the time concluded “Evidence shows that this venue is a source of number of crimes, disorder and anti-social behaviour. Lack of management, staff quality and the clientele that the premises attract has led to the police seeking a review of the premises.”

Whilst bookmakers and indeed some customers, feel that the council’s plans are “too tough” and are at “odds with the facts”, 99 percent of residents reportedly agree that there are too many shops in the borough, and 84 percent agreed the amount that can be bet on FOBTs should be reduced., according to a local consultation conducted by Ipsos Mori on behalf of Newham Council.