Racing: Call to keep a closed shop

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The Independent Online
MARK COTON, chairman of the National Association for the Protection of Punters, yesterday called on both bookmakers and the Home Office to consult punters before making changes to betting shops, writes Mark Popham.

Coton was reacting to Home Office plans announced the previous day to allow betting shops to serve a range of refreshment, to show racing on large screens and to have shop fronts which no longer prohibit a view of the interior.

He said: 'It would be nice for once if the bookmakers and the Home Office actually gave some thought to what the consumer thinks, instead of assuming they know what the consumer wants.

'We welcome the Home Office document on de-regulation, but they should be cautious about opening up betting- shop windows,' Coton said. 'I have spoken to punters today in betting shops about whether they would be happy betting with their activities witnessed by the outside world and the reaction was no, they wouldn't want that.

'The reason is do with the basic appeal of betting which is a secretive activity on the whole. That does not mean it is sordid, unpleasant or disreputable.'