I noticed today that it was Grand National day; I saw it advertised about a week before but it had slipped my mind (a bit lame for a gambling act activist, but not so much for a recovering gambler!).
A few things reminded me that it was Grand National day, but the confirmation for me was seeing the streams of people coming in and out of the Ladbrokes betting shop that I was busking nearby.
I'm currently living in a small place in the West Midlands where there are three betting shops in the town centre, yet the small local businesses there are struggling.
Two shopkeepers stressed to me today about how the prices on everything had gone up, even delivery costs have rocketed, yet on Grand National day the betting shops are booming.
Does Grand National day have any relevance to the electronic roulette machines??
Well, despite it being horse racing, yes it does. I remember a few years ago during my roulette addiction; I'd gone into a William Hill outside Brighton train station, and despite it being just a small betting shop it was packed. Most people will go in today and simply place a small bet on a horse but I'm pretty certain that those machines are going to be played a lot more than usual today. And lots and lots of money are going to be made from them.
Where does all that money go though? Does it get spent back into the local community?
No it doesn't, it gets shifted around on a national level, despite paying rent and a little tax, a very, very small percentage of this money will be flowing back into the local community.
What seems dangerous about it to me, is that betting shops can afford to take advantage of this. They run a business with minimal running costs, as the product they offer actually isn't anything but a game and a small chance to win some money. They don't have the pressure of delivery costs, or products going out of date, or anything that many local businesses have to provide, which is why our high streets are now often like gambling gauntlets.
And still more betting shops are opening, what's going on?! (head in hand)