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Residents fear planned Chinatown casino will increase crime and damage tourism – South London News

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A gambling centre planned for London’s Chinatown faces backlash by residents fearing an increase in the area’s alleged ‘gang wars’.

The move to open an adult gaming centre in the popular part of the West End have sparked anger among locals who fear it could lead to increased crime and worsen gambling addiction.

Silvertime Amusement Limited, run by Edward Reed, has been granted a licence to run an adult gaming centre at 32 Gerrard Street.

The street is in a bustling part of Chinatown, not far from Leicester Square, and where they are already many betting shops, casinos and a bingo hall.

Local people objected to this gaming centre claiming it could increase crime, damage tourism and even tear families apart.

One objector was quoted in a council report, saying: “I am worried for our young waiters and waitresses that walk home after working late night shifts and may be targeted by gangs that loiter outside the arcade.

“The area is already home to gang wars and if this new arcade, if approved, will allow them to hang around another premises during all hours, intimidating local residents and tourists.

“Chinatown is home to bakeries, souvenir shops, bars and restaurants, and is a thriving hub of Oriental wonder. There is nothing Oriental about another betting shop on Gerrard Street.”

The council received complaints from people who claimed the new gaming centre would tempt low-paid workers into dangerous gambling habits.

Another person wrote: “Do not turn Chinatown into a gambling destination as it is an oasis for Chinese culture, tradition and businesses.

“The gaming shop will bring misery to the family of those low income workers, particularly the shopkeepers, delivery men, porters etc. who work long hours.”

Another said: “It’s more important to promote the area as family friendly to attract tourists, rather than get vulnerable, bored workers into financial debt through gambling.”

Representing Mr Reed during a meeting on Wednesday (February 16), Philip Kolvin QC said: “Lots of gambling operators want to make their money from people who want to have a bit of fun. They do not want to keep food off children’s tables.

“For most people, gambling is a harmless activity. But for a minority it is a harmful activity involving addiction and harm to themselves. That is why gambling is regulated.”

He said Mr Reed would visit the premise daily in its first few months of opening.

A planning report revealed there were 101 homes, two hostels, five faith groups and five other betting shops nearby.

Quoted in the report, Westminster city council licensing officer Kevin Jackaman said: “The area is an attraction to vulnerable persons and in particular those with problems with gambling and/or alcohol or drug abuse problems.”

The report said Mr Reed, who owned the gambling shop, had over two decades’ experience of running gaming centres.

It adds: “He is a conscientious, hands-on owner, who has built a competent, well-staffed organisation.

“The organisation has never suffered a licence refusal or a review.”

The Met Police did not object to the gambling licence application.

Silvertime Amusements was contacted for further comment.

Top picture: Images_of_Money

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