Plumstead residents in opposition to William Hill's Gambling Licence
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We the undersigned make representation to object to the Premises Licence application 'Betting (other than at a track)' for William Hill plc, 107 Plumstead High Street, SE18 1SE
As residents and business owners in Plumstead our main concerns with regard to the licensing of another betting shop are threefold,
1. The proliferation of betting shops in close proximity to one another increases the risk of addiction for people more susceptible to gambling problems.
2. The majority of profits from a new betting shop is likely to be from the FOBTs than from over the counter betting and that this therefore being primarily a gaming not betting establishment.
3. The risk of additional crime, associated directly with the shop, in raising the risk of proceeds of crime being laundered here and the crime associated with an increase in problem gamblers.
The rapid increase of betting shops appears to be driven by B2 gaming machines, otherwise known as Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. These machines bring high stake, high risk casino style gaming to the high street. In the year ending September 2016 British gamblers lost £1.82bn on FOBT's alone which is an increase of 73% since 2009. There are 195 of these machines in the Royal Borough of Greenwich currently. Betting shops can have up to four machines, and often will open more branches in close proximity to maximise profits, as demonstrated by the multiple branches of Paddy Power currently on the High Street.
These highly addictive machines pose a greater risk for vulnerable members of the community, with those in low income brackets being most likely to develop a problem (GambleAware report 2016). There are an estimated 350,000 people suffering from gambling addiction in the UK, and it costs the uk £1.2bn in services, namely mental health, police and homelessness (GambleAware report 2016). The high concentration of Betting Shops, as we already see in and around Plumstead High Street encourages problem gamblers to move from shop to shop and continue betting.
A recent study from the Responsible Gaming Trust highlighted that rates of problem gambling were higher in areas where these 'clusters' exist. Adding yet another betting shop into our community will only exacerbate existing social and economic problems.
In the words of Ralph Topping, ex Chief Executive of William Hill, "I’m against betting shop clustering on social grounds. I can see for myself some pretty stark examples of this and I can see why people might raise localised objections. Betting shops have always been part of the community, but when the situation starts to alienate communities the industry needs to listen and politicians need to act."
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