Betting addictions in London’s Chinatown continue to be a huge problem among people of different nationalities, backgrounds and social status.
The roots of the crisis can be traced approximately five years ago when betting shops and gambling machines in the area started to grow like weeds and to multiply with an impressive speed. It appeared that little to nothing can be done to prevent the increasing number of betting houses.
Even the Westminster Council had no power to stop their invasion, as according to the UK gambling laws and more specifically the Gambling Act 2005, it had no right to intervene.
Responsible citizens are deeply worried about the betting problems of the community
Reporter covering the issue and more specifically the opinion of citizens in the area, learned from Christine Yau, chair of the community centre in Leicester Court, who thinks that there is something deeply wrong with the betting houses’ licenses. She commented: “If you tried to change an office to a restaurant you would have more problems than changing to a betting shop.”
The cosmic number of betting shops in London’s Chinatown causes a lot of trouble to the community
• The Gambling Act 2005 needs to be changed
• Community leaders are trying their best to help bettors with addiction problems
• Authorities recognize the issue and promise to take actions
Yau commented that there are four betting places only on Gerrard Street, not to mention the ones on the neighboring streets, which are numerous and offer hard to resist temptation to gambling addicts. She added: “In my community centre, people admit that they go to betting because of problems at home and then it becomes an addiction.”
She explained that people are desperate and suffer from the vast number of betting opportunities in the area. All the betting shops in combination to the countless online casinos in the UK, makes the temptation unbearable for all the players, who suffer from betting addictions.
Numerous attempts to raise the problem in front of the authorities
Christine Yau went even further in her attempt to help the resolution of the huge gambling problem. She sent petitions to Boris Johnson, the mayor of London and the Prime Minister David Cameron. The concerned woman also spoke with Eric Pickles, the Local government minister.
Luckily, it seems that she helped giving voice to the serious problem and currently both Cameron and the Labour party leader Ed Miliband have promised to take measures and address the major issue that gambling addicts have with the extreme number of street betting shops.
Various politicians express issue related election promises
Miliband promised last year in Camden that if elected, he will expand the powers of the local authorities and will giving them the opportunity to restrict the number of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. These machines, were depicted as the “crack cocaine” of gambling, which cause immense loses to bettors.
Miliband also posed a question to the Prime Minister in parliament, who responded: “This is a problem, it does need looking at, we have a review under way, frankly we are clearing up a situation that was put in place under the last government, but I think if we work together we can probably sort it out.”
The Gambling Act 2005 is blamed for the uncontrolled number of betting shops
This gambling act was implemented by the Labour party, but apparently it raises a lot of controversies as even Harriet Harman, the deputy leader of the party, calls it a “mistake” and asks for revision of the broadly liberal gambling control.
Christine Yau insisted that the law needs change: “Westminster is fully aware of the gambling bug and are very sympathetic. But of course, if they object to the license, the betting shops will appeal and this will cost the council a lot of money to explain why they have to refuse. So the only way to resolve this whole problem is to change the law.”
Community leaders continue to fight the problems with all possible means
Edmond Yeo, chair of the Chinese Information and Advice Centre, which aims at helping Chinatown community members who have gambling addictions, commented: “A 19-year-old university student came down to my office last year and said ‘Can you help my dad, he’s a self-confessed gambling addict. He’s burnt up all my school fees’.”
Yeo gave further examples: “Then we’ve got people who are earning GBP 700 a week as chef and they have to run away because they cannot bear the pressure of the loan shark. The loan sharks are there every day pressuring these people for money, so they have to run away. These are the things that are not seen and not heard.”
Chinatown’s problem with land and internet betting in the UK has been at the table for long time, but so far no resolving seems to be possible. Luckily for the community, lately, the authorities started to address the issue and there are hopes for some improvements in the near future.