Vacant properties and the apparent lack of investment on the streets of Preston has been the topic of discussion and highlighted recently by the debate on the future of Preston’s empty buildings
We are about to see yet another empty premises when the Britannia building society on Lune Street in Preston shuts its doors for the last time. The Co-operative who own the Britannia chain decided to close the branch on Lune St as part of a nationwide re-structure of their business. Staff employed there are said to be relocated to neighbouring branches.
However, while one business closes down another opens. A new Coral Bookmakers has recently appeared on the site of the old Cookies coffee shop on the corner of Orchard Street in Preston.
Financial institutions have felt the pinch during the economic downturn but betting shops are seemingly thriving.
While it is admirable to see a business willing to take over a plot that has been vacant for a few years is this the type of businesses we want to see more of on the high street?
A recent article in the Daily Mail highlighted the fact that since 2001 when Gordon Brown, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, abolished duty on individual bets in favour of a tax on bookmakers’ gross profits the betting chains, which had been in decline, began to enjoy a recovery.
This was mostly due to customers who were drawn to the new Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs). The Mail reported that in 2007, there were 16,380 in the UK. Last year, this had doubled to 32,000, with Coral, William Hill, Ladbrokes, and Paddy Power collectively making more than £1 billion a year from the terminals. The machines allow punters to gamble up to £100 a time in seconds.
Research has shown that gamblers in the poorest areas spend the most money. There are claims by Fairer Gambling that betting companies deliberately cluster branches together on the High Streets of poorer towns “often taking over closed-down premises and nudging up to ‘pound’ stores, charity shops and pawn- brokers where rents are dirt cheap so that a punter can move easily between machines in different betting shops and gamble away yet more money.”
The Association Of British Bookmakers deny these allegations as ‘false and offensive.’
There are plenty of scare stories of the misery caused by the machines in betting shops “turning people into addicts”. The official advice is gamble responsibly and don’t gamble with money you can’t afford to lose http://www.gambleaware.co.uk/
What is your opinion of another betting shop opening in Preston? Let us know in the comments below.