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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Hi all. Don't forget about the scrutiny reveiw of betting shops this afternoon at Wood Green Civic Centre. There are two sessions:

At 3pm participants can hear evidence from licensing & planning officers, Gambling Commission and betting shop operators

At 6pm have your say and hear evidence from local residents, community groups and residents associations

I've taken photos of most of the betting shops on Wood Green High Street and posted them on my blog here: http://tinyurl.com/3xn7tgv

Tags for Forum Posts: betting, gambling

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PUB, BANK, BUILDING SOCIETY, those were the days!
I like living near Green Lanes because it is so diverse with really useful shops (!?)

Hi Maggie,

These are some great photos - do you mind if we use them in the office?

(Not for decoration obviously!)

(David's assistant)
Pier: I think the cluster pictured is probably an extreme example, but it demonstrates how bad the problem can get.

I don't know if you were at the public meeting, but near the end, one of the spokesmen for Ladbrokes affected not to know what all the fuss was about, didn't know what was meant by "clustering". He was then shown the photos and he didn't have much more to say.

Andrew Lyman for William Hill was more conciliatory, accepted there was a problem, recognized the level of concern. Of course, he believes any problems can be resolved at the local level (no need to talk about legislation, is there?)

I note that the suckers of cash out of the community tend to cluster around the outlets of cash into the community: post offices and building societies. As a working hypothesis, ancillary industries tend to be not far away: pawnbrokers and 'pay day' loan companies. Marvellous. This must be part of the service industry that we hear about.
Yeah, I had a bit of nightmare though:

I turned up for session 1 at 3pm on the dot and when I signed in, two men in suits were in front of me, so I blindly followed them into the chamber and sat down next to them as there was limited seating. Turns out they were from Paddy Power, I had some of the William Hill contingent in front of me, and another betting man (didn't quite work out which organisation but they all seemed to know each other) sat down straight after me. I felt very much behind enemy lines!

In a lobby letter the Association of British Bookmakers sent round early this year, they say "In a very few areas of high population density, shops have clustered around a few high street locations." (but, as you say, they obviously require LOCAL solutions and not legislation changes - !!). So if they trade guild admits it is a problem, we can safely assume it must be pretty big and undenaible, and not just in Haringey.

My general thoughts on the meeting (both sessions, although I left at 7:40pm so I didn't catch the whole of the last one) were positive. Although the industry is clearly a formidable lobbying machine (as per the positive comments from Police, GamCare and Gambling Commission), if we laser in on clustering, then they have no answer to the arguments. Indeed, it was interesting to see in their time in the chair the trio from the industry seem to suggest that clustering was inevitable under the current law and current operating practices. Which would suggest it is a case of refining our argument and lasering in on why clustering is a 'bad thing'.

What did you think?

Pier: too little time and space to give a comprehensive account of my impressions. However, your last comment is valuable and worth adding to:

Which would suggest it is a case of refining our argument and lasering in on why clustering is a 'bad thing'.

Clustering per se is not a bad thing. Clustering for normal businesses (businesses that do not require licences) is good and pro-competitive and a natural feature of a healthy marketplace, refecting normal levels of demand. Such as restaurants or greengrocers. I think its important to take this point on board, because we can be sure the gambling lobby's barristers woulld.

However, the clustering of betting shops is not good or healthy, nor does it reflect normal market demands because betting shops are not a normal business. The symptom of BS clustering reflects the wrong assumption in the Gambling Act 2005, that gambling is a normal business, just another form of entertainment.

The Gambling Act fails adequately to recognise the addictive nature of gambling for some punters and the social damage this causes. Clustering is a function of abnormal level of demand for an experience that has more in common with narcotics, in particular for Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. The limit of four FOBTs per shop should be cut, but more than anything else the "aim to permit" [new premises licence applications] should be struck out.

Whoever framed this legislation, where the assumption is that betting is just another business, needs to think back to why this activity was ever thought needed to be licensed in the first place. The Act has failed to regulate and needs changing.
I would be happy for you to use them. If you could send me a 'personal message' I can e. mail them. Let me know what format.
Report from the meeting in the Haringey Indy
Unfortunately, contrary to a(n implied) claim in the Indy report, we haven't got the excuse that the betting shops forced Ottakar or Waterstones out of Wood Green. If Haringey residents had patronised them one tenth as frequently as the betting shops are patronised they'd both still be doing a roaring trade. (shome mishtake in your major or minor premise, OAE, as they occupied the same premises and only their Costa coffee corner ever did even a whimpering trade. Shure mate - well Waterstones could have given WHS the bum's rush, simples, and still had loads of space for a Coffee Republic.)
Meanwhile, how many Hollers have crossed the Big Green Bookshop's threshold more often than I've done? (Yes, thrice would suffice - so I'm not setting the bar too high for you, am I?)



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