You can’t seem to walk 100 yards in London without walking past a bookmaker or a high street casino, but are they starting to die out? It seems so. This is great news for those who just like to enjoy a leisurely stroll locally without having to worry about wandering past angry punters who have lost their last five on the 15.55 at Epsom. But where do those who enjoy a bet go in the future?
There is an alternative for those who want to continue to bet as the shops around them continue to close. Online casinos and sports betting sites. They’re convenient, they often have promotional bonuses that shops don’t offer you, and they take many forms of payment. For example, the list of PayPal casinos in the UK is huge. You don’t need just a debit or credit card to deposit money online these days.
With the crackdown in responsible gambling in recent months, how long will it be until our local high streets in south west London and England, in general, are betting free?
New Limits from April at Fixed Odds Betting Terminals
From April 1st, the maximum stake put in place on all Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) in the UK was set at £2. It was £100 before that. If you’re not sure what these are, they’re the slots and roulette machines in every single bookmaker in the UK. You can’t miss them if you walk into a bookie in, say, Wimbledon. More often than not, you’ll see four terminals in each shop.
This looks like a great move to tidy up the high street and to stop encouraging people to spend excessive amounts of money. Some of which they don’t have. However, it will also mean many shop closures, thus resulting in a lot of people losing their jobs. A recent report in the Financial Times suggests that up to a third of all high street betting shops will close as a result of the new limit.
What’s been uncovered since the new FOBT rules have been put in place is a little worrying. An investigation by the Guardian has gathered evidence of high street bookmakers trying to bypass the new laws. They’ve simply added roulette-style games to their FOBTs. No-one’s certain how this will pan out, but don’t expect the new games to be around for long.
Will High Street Casinos Follow Suit?
It remains to be seen how your typical high street casinos will fare in the future. You’ve got the likes of Cashino by Putney train station and Admiral Casino in Streatham that attract plenty of punters on a daily basis. However, if the restrictions that have been applied to FOBTs are extended to high street casinos and amusements, it won’t be long before they have to shut down due to a lack of profits. Again, that, in turn, will lead to more job losses.
If the inevitable happens and you want to continue betting on slots or roulette, you’ll have to make the trip into central London to use a land casino. Alternatively, sign up to an online casino and enjoy placing your bets that way as mentioned earlier.
Whatever happens in the future, it’s clear that the day will come at some point where there will be no high street casinos and no high street betting shops within walking distance of your house. The majority think this is a good thing, and it’s hard to argue against it. However, with the number of job cuts that will happen, are we just ironing over the cracks of one problem and creating another?
Feature image courtesy of Andrew Stawarz via Flickr