Wednesday April 10,2013 : TOO MANY HIGH STREET BETTING SHOPS?
Labour politicians may have backed the wrong horse here
The attack du jour of the UK Labour Party this week appeared to be the proliferation of High Street betting shops in the UK, but Gambling Commission statistics appear to suggest the contrary.
Labour leader Ed Miliband and his deputy Harriet Harman have been trying to score political points on the alleged proliferation of betting shops and payday loan companies on high streets that have seen growing numbers of shops shut down in a tough economic climate.
The Independent newspaper addressed the attacks Monday, pointing out that Labour's plan to stop further expansion by changing local planning laws to empower councils to reject new applicants could be based on suspect stats.
"Trouble is, if you believe the Gambling Commission, which was set up by a Labour government, remember, the number of betting shops is already in decline," the newspaper notes.
"That same government dropped the demand test, which allowed existing operators to object to new betting shop openings before a magistrate.
"It was that change which sparked a mini boom in betting shop numbers, but between March and September 2012 there was a net loss of 79 shops, and the decline is very likely to continue as the consumer squeeze and competition from online eat into profits and force further closures."
The newspaper surmises that betting shops are perhaps more noticeable these days "…because many of the shops that used to be their neighbours have closed down."
The Independent claims that competition from online operators, allied to onerous business rates and taxation, have combined with the consumer squeeze to create a tough economic environment that is likely to see the decline in betting shops continue.
"Ms Harman has talked darkly of a casino on every high street. It seems to have passed her by that any internet-connected device gives you access to a casino in your pocket. With no limit on how much you can stake," the newspaper observes.