A petition signed by more than 325,000 betting shop staff and customers from across the country will be presented to 10 Downing Street at 11am this morning as the beleaguered betting industry fights back against its portrayal in the media.
The petition, collected as part of the recent ‘Back Your Local Bookie’ campaign, calls on the Government to support an industry that employs 43,000 people, serves six million customers and which has been trading on the high street for 55 years.
More than 300 betting shops have been forced to shut in the past two years as a result of more regulation and higher taxes. Customers and staff now fear there could be hundreds more closures if more unnecessary regulation is introduced by the Government.
The huge petition will be presented to Number Ten Downing Street by shop staff and industry representatives, ranging from major operators to family-run independent businesses. The instigation of the petition was triggered by the growing scrutiny of regulations around betting, specifically the extension of the Triennial Review into assessing the impact of FOBTs.
Vicky Knight, who works for independent bookie JenningsBet and has signed the petition, commented: “The support we’ve had from our customers over the past few weeks for our campaign has been fantastic. They enjoy their local bookie and would be devastated, as would staff, if the Government took draconian action against bookies.
“We care about our customers and we are there to help the very small number of customers who get into problems with their gambling. Bookies cater for millions of people who enjoy over-the-counter betting and gaming machines (FOBTs), if we lose either of these, we are finished. And, without bookies, there will be even more empty shops and fewer reasons for people to come into town.”
Malcolm George, Chief Executive of the Association of British Bookmakers, said: “Britain’s betting shops have been open for business on our high streets and in local communities since before The Beatles.
“They have a long record of ensuring customers can bet safely and responsibly and it is vital that the work of staff and the voice of our six million customers are not ignored. We hope politicians and the public will visit their local betting shop to see for themselves what a great community they are and talk to the staff and locals who enjoy their flutter at the bookies.”
The petition says: “More than 6 million people use betting shops every year. These shops have been part of our community for over 55 years and need support. Hundreds of betting shops have already been forced to close and many more risk closure. I should be able to spend my money as I choose and I choose to support my local bookie. I urge the government not to undermine that freedom or put thousands of jobs at risk through further regulation or tax hikes.”