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Attack Of The Betting Shops: Chinatown Gets Another

Does the city centre need more bookies?

Written by . Published on March 6th 2014.

Attack Of The Betting Shops: Chinatown Gets Another

BOOKMAKERS are taking over Manchester city centre it would appear. There are already over 30 in the central areas occupying ground floor premises that were previously shop units, banks and offices but never gambling dens.

 We want government to create a separate planning class for bookmakers with a tougher set of criteria

Since central government relaxed the rules around opening up bookmakers the long recession in retail has provided an opportunity for the gambling industry to prosper.

Presently Betfred are converting a former restaurant in Chinatown, the International Buffet, into a bookies, despite there being three other betting shops within a two minute crawl, never mind walk.

Bonnie Yeung of Manchester Chinatown Community Group (MCTCG) said: “We have been working with the city council in attracting new businesses but this isn’t what we had in mind. It’s more of the same and it’s more gambling. We want to promote growth, introducing more gambling establishments to the area does not seem to be the best way to achieve this.”

Confidential can see the point MCTCG are trying to make.

The new bookies will be on Nicholas Street facing the gardens close to the Chinese Arch. This is Chinatown’s front window, a Chinese bar or maybe a cracking new restaurant, would have offered something more to visitors than another bookies. 

“It’s a problem right across the city centre,” says Councillor Kevin Peel. “But since central government relaxed the rules there’s little we can do. We’ll be opposing it but no doubt permission will have to be granted. Even if we take it to appeal then there will be the same result.

“As with other local authorities  –  there’s a campaign that’s already been launched by several London boroughs  –  we want government to create a separate planning class for bookmakers with a tougher set of criteria over their introduction into an area – for instance, is the area saturated with these businesses to the detriment of other traders and residents?

“There are huge social problems with gambling at present across the country especially with machines at which people can stake £100 and pay by credit card. People are losing fortunes.

"Gambling is a particular issue in the Chinese community. We are talking with people to oppose this change of use in Chinatown. But, as it stands, local government can object but in the end the permission will no doubt be granted.”

Planning permission - more or less signed and sealed

Premises licence - more or less signed and sealed

The machines Peel is talking about are fixed odds betting terminals, also known as ‘crack cocaine slot machines’ because of their addictive nature. Punters can lose up to £300 a minute on these machines, meanwhile last year, the gambling industry made £1.6bn profit on them according to the Campaign for Fairer Gambling.

The latter group has also pointed out that more betting shops were opened in poorer areas than affluent ones - shops dominated by fixed odds betting terminals. It seems bookmakers are no longer filled with people waiting to see the result of the 2.30 at Kempton but by people jousting with their cash on savings guzzling machines.

Given the present rules governing opening new bookies this latest addition to Chinatown will probably not be the last. The rest of the city centre can anticipate more as well.

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18 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousMarch 6th 2014.

This would be awful for Chinatown

HbiffMarch 6th 2014.

Did betting organisations lobby for this planning liberalisation? Do betting organisations donate to political parties?

DavidMarch 6th 2014.

The previous Labour government was the one who relaxed most of the restrictions on gambling not this one.Was Mr Peel asleep at the time or does he have a selective memory?

6 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 6th 2014.

Who's paying you David?

GimboidMarch 6th 2014.

Sad sad sad. This is not the right place for your pathetic grudge.

SquirrelitoMarch 7th 2014.

oh bore off, David. This is a lifestyle website not a 6th form common room. Dull, dull dull.

AnonymousMarch 7th 2014.

That's insulting to 6th formers.

Kevin PeelMarch 7th 2014.

Thanks for the promotion, David. However I don't think I was a member of the last Labour government. I was elected to represent Manchester city centre in 2011. Pop along to one of our advice surgeries some time and say hello.

AnonymousMarch 19th 2014.

You must be pleased today Kevin Peel with the government listening to you and tackling the fixed odds betting machines.Perhaps it's something the Labour council could try with Library Walks

Jonathan Schofield - editorMarch 6th 2014.

Oh David, please, why, why, why? So tendentious. He refers to the government, not this one, but the government, which is absolutely correct.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
DavidMarch 6th 2014.

Both the present government and the last Labour government have received considerable funding from the gambling industry,hence all the lifting of restrictions. There would less likely be bookmakers proliferating in the city centre if the council had not introduced it's anti motorist taxes.driving out a lot of other businesses and leaving betting shops to take over these empty units.

AnonymousMarch 6th 2014.

That's lovely David. But more to the point, who is funding YOU?

Jonathan Schofield - editorMarch 6th 2014.

Anonymous you're getting as repetitive as David. This is ruining these comment streams so we'll have to take action

GriffyndorMarch 6th 2014.

And none too soon.

SquirrelitoMarch 7th 2014.

Can you not rid us of this tiresome troll? Same old, same old anti-Labour bobbins. Anyone would think it was the Morning Star website rather than one that gives us the gen on what's new, what's going on, what's right and what's wrong in Manchester and invites us to give our take. You're pretty keen on removing negative reviews by users on some venues (your prerogative, obviously and readers make their decisions about said venues and your editorial policy on those decisions), but why is this nomark humoured? Get rid! This site is a fine organ for discussion about all things Mancunian but this person seems to have a grudge against your site and spoils the enjoyment of many other readers. Come on, Jonathan! Get him to bog off

crisbyMarch 6th 2014.

It is not necessary to wait for the Government to act (they won't - for once, David is right, though interestingly, that dreadful Gordon Brown toned down the original proposals under Blair, which were supported by the Tories I think, to let gambling rip). It's within the Council's power to serve an Article 4 Direction under the planning laws, which would make it necessary for any new bookies to get planning permission. I'm puzzled Councillors don't seem to know this, or why their planners presumably haven't told them. That doesn't address the problem of fixed odds machines, of course, but at least it would slow down proliferation. Though of course bookmakers pay business rates, unlike empty shops ...

1 Response: Reply To This...
Kevin PeelMarch 7th 2014.

Serving an Article 4 Direction isn't as easy as it sounds and bookies have a year once the process is complete, during which they'll no doubt bring forward loads more shops - as has been evidenced in Barking & Dagenham whose Article 4 comes into force in May. Still, we're considering it.

AnonymousMarch 6th 2014.

It is somewhat hypocritical for Fred Done, in a widely publicised interview this week, to moan about the Glazers at Manchester United, how they do nothing for the local community, how they have loaded debt onto the club (and by extension the club's paying fanbase) and how they view the club as a mere financial instrument for their own ends. Well Fred, the similarities between the behaviour of those reviled owners at United and your own industry are striking wouldn't you say?

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