As part of the current slash and burn cost-cutting measures, the TAB has chosen to close my local branch in the Barrington Mall in Christchurch.
Now to be honest, I wasn’t a regular customer there, other than to buy the now defunct race-book, or put a deposit in my TAB account (thankfully not too regular an occurrence). However it was a friendly and, I understand profitable, outlet and one with a very public presence in a busy shopping mall, unlike decades ago when TAB’s used to have to be situated up dark alleys out of the view of the poor souls who might have been corrupted by looking inside.
There are two worrying aspects to the closure. Firstly, every time I went in to the premises, there were the same faces of guys (and ladies) who seemed to almost live in, betting on virtually every race, not large amounts, and enjoying the conviviality of being in a comfortable, friendly environment. Where are these people, also known as regular customers, going to go now? Will they be yet another bunch of people lost to racing?
And secondly, now the irony bit, I understand from a reliable source that the main reason for the closure of that TAB, and presumably others, is that they had no gaming machines on the premises. Hang on though, weren’t these the same infernal machines that have been responsible for the steep decline in racing turnovers in the past couple of decades since the Government decided to let them loose on the community? Now, it seems, the TAB isn’t willing to operate unless they are present to distract punters from spending their disposable money on racing! (Shakes head in resignation).