Islanders will no longer be able to have a punt on who gets elected in a fortnight after the last locally owned independent bookmaker closed his doors.
Chris Benest has taken bets on every Jersey election since he opened CB Sports in St. Peter a decade ago but he has closed his premises after the numbers didn’t stack up.
Mr Benest will still take bets at race meetings but he has closed his doors opposite the Co-op.
“My costs were going up and turnover was going down, so I decided to get out on my own terms,” he said.
“Independent bookmakers have closed down all over the UK in the last five years, especially during the pandemic.
“Online betting has destroyed the independent bookmaker. All UK legislation, which Jersey tends to follow, is focused on shops while online companies get off scot-free.
“Fixed-odds betting terminals, for instance, have a maximum stake of £2 but you can still bet £500 online in an instant; there is no equality."
Pictured: Mr Benest said that online gambling had "destroyed" independent bookmakers in the British Isles.
“Lockdown did us no favours, either," he reflected. "People did not bet and realised they then had a bit more money at the end of the week.”
With this in mind, Mr Benest said of his decision to close: “My lease was up and another five years would have taken me to 69 years old, working seven days a week, so I decided to go now.”
The former postman also reflected on a worrying trend in gambling.
“On Grand National day, the number of people under 30 coming into the shop, you could count on two hands. You have a whole generation who know nothing but internet betting, and that is dangerous.
“I have never taken card payments and I never will. With cash, people have a greater sense of what they are spending, but with ‘tap-tap-tap’ people have no idea."
Pictured: With the fixed premises gambling industry hard-hit the rise of online gambling and covid, Mr Benest said he had "decided to get out on my own terms."
He continued: “Am I sad about closing? Yes, in a way, but when one door closes, another one opens. I’m still taking bets at Les Landes and I’m going to a couple of race meetings in the UK, too.”
Still with a keen eye on local politics, Mr Benest said he would be following the hustings closely to see who was likely to get in, despite not running a book.
“Kristina Moore and Ian Gorst are a shoo-in in my district but it looks like it will be an interesting bun-fight in St. Lawrence, St. John and Trinity.
"...And then you have the big face-off between the two Sirs in St. Clement."
"The next couple of weeks are certainly going to be interesting,” Mr Benest concluded.
Pictured top: The former premises of CB Sports in St. Peter is now being advertised to let.
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