Jobs lost and shop shut as Ipswich bookies becomes 'unviable' under new legislation
PUBLISHED: 12:32 14 August 2019 | UPDATED: 13:57 14 August 2019
An Ipswich betting shop has revealed it was forced to close down after the introduction of new legislation made it impossible to turn a profit.
Jennings Bet, in Upper Brook Street, permanently shut at the end of June and all staff were made redundant.
The decision to close the store came in the wake of a government clampdown on the controversial fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) - the interactive betting machines found inside the shop.
Last year the government ruled to slash the maximum stake on FOBTs from £100 to £2.
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The machines had long been condemned by campaigners and politicians for fuelling problem gambling.
And when the legislation came into force on April 1, it had an instant impact on the Ipswich's bookies.
"The branch became unviable once the new legislation kicked in, this being the machine stakes being reduced by 98%", a Jennings Bet spokesman explained.
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"We managed to obtain a rent concession from our landlord while we traded between April and June to see if we could absorb the impact. Unfortunately we could not."
He added: "We employed four staff in total at the branch, all of whom were made redundant and lived local.
"We had no other branches in a reasonable travelling distance to relocate them."
The Upper Brook Street site has joined a growing number of empty shop fronts which have appeared in Ipswich in recent months.
Earlier this week, the BRC-Springboard footfall and vacancies monitor revealed the number of empty shops in town centres reached its highest figure in four years during July.
The national vacancy rates stands at 10.3% - its highest figures since January 2015.
Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, said the rising vacancy rate "highlighted the ongoing challenges faced by bricks and mortar destinations".
She added: "Consumer demand is ever more polarised between convenience and experience, and the stronger performance of out-of-town destinations reflects the fact that retail parks are successfully bridging the convenience-experience gap.
"They not only offer consumers accessible shopping environments with free parking and easy click and collect opportunities for online purchases, but many also combine this with an enhanced experience that includes coffee shops and casual dining restaurants, and some also have leisure facilities."