Changes in gambling habits see city bookies shutting up shop

The former William Hill shop in Castle Street

The former William Hill shop in Castle Street - Credit: Archant

The conversion of a city betting shop into a florist is a sign of the times according to an expert who has been tracking the decline. 

Norwich City Council approved a change of use application on October 11 which will see the former Coral betting outlet in Unthank Road become Rambling Rose Design.

Martin Schmierer, city councillor for the Mancroft ward, has been researching gambling in Norwich ever since Luxury Leisure submitted plans to open an adult gaming centre in St Stephens Street in 2017. 

He recently submitted a motion with fellow Green Party councillor Jamie Osborn to limit the amount of gambling advertisement in the city, which was unanimously carried.

Mancroft ward councillor Martin Schmierer.
Picture: Simon Finlay

Mancroft ward councillor Martin Schmierer. Picture: Simon Finlay - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

Mr Schmierer backed the recent closure of Coral and said this is part of a wider trend across the city which has been accelerated by the pandemic.

"Gambling habits have changed over the last couple of years with limits on what people can spend on fixed odds betting terminals so people are not losing a week's wages in one go," Mr Schmierer said.

"In terms of Norwich, we are seeing gambling has moved away from bricks and mortar to online. The florist is just the latest example of that." 

The city councillor cited the recent closures of William Hill outlets on the bottom of Queens Road and Castle Street. 

"I was always surprised to see a betting shop in Unthank Road in what is quite an affluent area," Mr Schmierer continued.

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"Preying is not an understatement. More affluent areas are less profitable and the shops are less likely to close in deprived areas, not just across Norfolk, but Waveney as well.

"The shop has been there for at least a decade and it seemed to be a strange place to having a gambling shop rather than Dereham Road for example."  

A Coral shop in Ipswich town centre.

The former Coral shop in Unthank Road is becoming a florist - Credit: Archant

The Gambling Commission is responsible for regulating gambling and supervising gaming law in Great Britain.

It found the total gross gambling yield of the British remote and online sector went up 8.1pc from April 2020 to March 2021 compared to April 2018 to March 2019. 

But the total industry yield went down 0.6pc to £14.2bn in this period.

Coral did not respond when contacted for comment as to why its outlet has shut.

A very positive step

Rambling Rose Design is being opened by Louisa Cutts, Mary Brooks, and Lydia Mulcahy in Unthank Road. 

Ms Mulcahy was a florist for 12 years, creating displays for Lisa Angel and St Giles Pantry in the Norwich Lanes.

Rambling Rose Design, florist in Norwich

Rambling Rose Design, opening a shop on Unthank Road in Norwich - Credit: Rambling Rose Design

And Mr Schmierer welcomed the change of use application getting the green light.

"It does not surprise me a florist has taken over that premises," the Norwich Green Party councillor said.

"It fits in more with the profile of that part of the city rather than a bookmakers. I prefer to see any other company taking over within reason and I think it is a very positive step forward.

"I wish the florist every success." 

Rambling Rose Design will be a luxury gift shop, selling homeware, themed hampers, gifts, house plants, and flowers.