Plans for third Harlesden casino sparks local fears for vulnerable gamblers
Plans for a third slot machine casino in a deprived North West London neighbourhood will target people “trying to turn their lives around”, residents have said.
Harlesden locals criticised plans for another Silvertime Casino in the area as they believe it would seek to exploit the vulnerable who might “lose their daily wages” in minutes.
Silvertime, which has eight adult gaming centres across North West London, plans to open up a new site in Park Parade, close to the town centre.
Maggie Cox, who has lived in Harlesden for 25 years, said there is “no need” for another gambling shop, given the impact they can have on the community.
She said: “There’s already so much destitution – how can you see that and then allow another gambling shop to open?
“It seems as if they draw people in with the hope of trying to turn their lives around, but it can be awful for people with debts or mental health issues.
“Residents are really, really against this – particularly as Park Parade is closer to residential streets and schools.”
Businesses near the Silvertime in High Street, Harlesden, said they rarely encounter problems with people using the casino and some even welcomed the prospect of increasing passing trade.
However, Ali Khan, of Mobile Shop, which is directly opposite Silvertime, said he appreciates the negative impact such places can have on some people.
He said: “It might attract vulnerable people, or drunk people, or people going in before going home as this is right next to the bus stop.
“Some people might look to sell their £200 phone for £40 or £50, spend it in the casino then come and buy their phone back. But if they lose, they’ve lost the phone and the money.
“It can also be bad for children – they might not understand what’s going on but as they see it every day, get influenced by it.”
Ms Cox appealed Brent Council’s decision to grant Silvertime a gambling licence in November 2020 and is still waiting on a response.
The planning application at the site, which was rejected by the council, is also in the process of an appeal – this time from Silvertime.
Cllr Mili Patel, who represents Harlesden ward, said she would be “very disappointed” if the council’s decision was overturned.
She has consistently opposed the proposals as she believes they will create more problems in an area with “high deprivation and low financial education”.
She said: “They try to pass it off as somewhere sociable, somewhere that’s attractive to women where you can place low 30p bets.
“But if you’re spending 30p after 30p, you can lose your daily wages in a short space of time.
“They make out like it’s somewhere where you can play on your PlayStation or have a game of bingo, but it’s slot machines, it’s a poor man’s casino.”
She said there needs to be “more education” and “more regulation” around the gambling industry and argued it should be a matter of public health, in the same manner as tobacco, alcohol and sugar.
The Local Democracy Reporting Service was unable to reach Silvertime Casino for comment