The ever-increasing number of betting shops in East Ham is causing worrying changes to our high streets. In Newham there total seventy-six betting shops; in East Ham alone there are at least thirty-four. In just short stretches of Green Street and High Street North - among four supermarkets, nine banks, seven pharmacies and a newsagent – there are now nineteen betting outlets with plans for two more. Applications for these additional shops have been made by Paddy Power. They want to build premises on 297 Green Street and 239 High Street North.
Newham Council has refused to grant Paddy Power the gambling licences needed to open these two shops. The Council is concerned about the anti-social behaviour resulting from groups of men gathering outside betting shops in East Ham drinking and abusing passers-by. I know that this behaviour has lead to at least one family moving out of the area.
The Council is also concerned about Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), which are gaming terminals found in betting shops that allow you to make a bet of £100 every 20 seconds. The Campaign for Fairer Gambling estimates that £183 million was gambled on these machines in East Ham last year. FOBTs have been labelled the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’ because the high-speed, high-risk element of play is feared to be highly addictive. Currently, only four FOBTs are allowed per premises, and it is believed that this limit has lead to multiple betting shops being built close together.
Paddy Power has appealed against Newham Council’s refusal of the gambling licences, and the case will soon be heard in court.
On Saturday 1st June Stephen Timms is hosting a drop in session with Councillor David Christie about this important issue. Please join them from 3:30pm to 4:30pm at the Katherine Road Community Centre (254 Katherine Road, E7 8PN). If you have any opinions, information or particular experiences concerning East Ham’s betting shops, they would love to hear from you.