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William Hill refused licence to open its 19th Newham betting shop

15:57 07 April 2014

A punter makes his bets at a William Hill shop

A punter makes his bets at a William Hill shop

PA Archive/Press Association Images

William Hill’s attempt to open its 19th betting shop in Newham has been refused by the council.

The application for a licence to open a second William Hill shop in Green Street was rejected by councillors who said they were unconvinced that the primary activity would be over the counter betting.

Instead, they feared that Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, which allow people to gamble up to £100 every 20 seconds, would be the shop’s primary source of revenue, raising fears that vulnerable people could be at risk of harm or exploitation.

Four of the machines - which have been described as the “crack cocaine of gambling” - are currently in operation in the existing William Hill shop in Green Street.

Councillors also objected on the grounds that it considered that opening the shop could be detrimental to the local area as there are already nine betting shops in the street.

In numbers

87

Betting shops in the borough, including

18

William Hill bookmakers

9

Betting shops in Green Street alone

£18,347,264

The amount The Campaign for Fairer Gambling estimates Newham gamblers lose from 
Fixed Odds Betting Terminals every year

£100

The amount which can be gambled every 20 seconds using a Fixed Odds Betting Terminal

They say William Hill failed to counter concerns and did not provide proof that Fixed Odds Betting Terminals would not be its primary source of revenue.

The decision has been welcomed by Sue Kenten, chief executive of Drug and Alcohol Service for London, based in Stratford.

“The game terminals are easily available, open lots of hours and they are very attractive but it is easy to lose money very quickly,” she said. “We have taken on gambling counselling because there are not the services around to deal with it.”

Newham council was the first in the country to use a legal cause to reject a licence application.

Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, said: “We’ll continue to challenge bookies that want to operate in our borough to prove that they will not have a negative impact on our borough and that their primary activity is traditional gambling.”

A spokesman for William Hill said: “We are reviewing the decision of the local authority licensing committee.”

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