Thursday, 10 February 2011

Deptford betting

London has long been fond of a gamble: in the eighteenth century, fortunes were lost in its gaming clubs while lotteries funded all sorts of state enterprises. Some of the more bizarre bets even made it into the newspapers; this one, from 1761, involved a walk to Deptford.
Last Saturday four Welsh women walked from the foot of Westminster Bridge to the Boot and Crown over Deptford Bridge, and back again, in an hour and three quarters, for a wager of 20l. They were allowed two hours and a half. The wager was between a gardener and a farmer; the gardener laying they performed it.
However, there's nothing amusing about the current invasion of betting shops on Deptford High Street. Betfred is planning to open yet another; Sue at Crosswhatfields has been covering the process in detail. Her latest post has good and bad news.

It also answers the question of why bookmakers want to open so many shops in so small an area. Forget each-way bets on the 3.30 at Epsom: a huge proportion of profits now come from controversial Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, sophisticated slot machines which allow players to gamble on games such as roulette and simulated races. Since only four terminals are allowed in a shop, having multiple shops in an area is surprisingly profitable - as poorer areas like Deptford are discovering to their cost.

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