Campaigners object to another gambling arcade in Leyton

Campaigners are hoping to stop an application to open a seventh gambling outlet in one small area.

Chongie Entertainment wants to turn the former Bright Sparks Homestore in High Road, Leyton, into a gambling arcade called Little Vegas, open from 8am to midnight every day.

A petition is now calling on Waltham Forest Council to reject the application, pointing out there are already four bookies and two gambling arcades within a few minutes’ walk.

It argues that allowing the “prime retail spot” on a busy crossroads to become another arcade “deprives the area of a business that could really benefit the community and do well”.

The petition reads: “Our local high streets and businesses need the communities around them more than ever to survive and maintain their variety, vibrancy and productivity. 

“An outsider company that has no connection to the area coming in to open a premises similar to six others in the vicinity is taking a step backwards.”

In its application, Chongie Entertainment argues bringing a vacant unit back into use will benefit the and there will still be diversity of businesses.

Their application reads: “The unit at the current time is contributing nothing to the vitality and viability of the (area) and indeed rather can be said to be detracting from it.

“It is highly likely (given COVID’s impact) that a shift towards leisure and service provision will need to happen to ensure the vitality and viability of centres that have traditionally been retail-dominant.

“The night-time use would be low key, with few customers, and will offer a facility for night workers and shift workers, generating employment and natural surveillance.”

They argue the new gambling arcade “would not result in a concentration” of such businesses in the area, citing nearby banks, grocery and homeware shops, pharmacies and food outlets.

They also seek to distinguish their adult gaming centres from licensed betting offices, pointing out they offer “a much wider range of products ranging from as little as 10p in stake”.

The application adds: “Licensed betting offices generally adopt a less inviting and supportive space for customers who can place a bet or play machines.

“Adult gaming centres have historically played an important community role… with staff circulating the shop floor, speaking to, helping and getting to know customers.”

It is estimated the new arcade would create up to eight jobs.

The petition against the new gambling arcade can be viewed here https://www.change.org/p/waltham-forest-licensing-section-no-more-new-bookies-gaming-venues-at-bakers-arms?redirect=false

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter