Bohemia Village Voice  Bohemia Village Voice

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Roberts 100,000 bet bet bet

Bet Bet Bet in Bohemia Road.

Bet Bet Bet in Bohemia Road.

Adam left, and Dan at Bet Bet Bet

Adam left, and Dan at Bet Bet Bet

Robert Prior, 48, father of four, and owner of Bohemia’s recently opened betting shop, ‘Bet Bet Bet 24/7’, talks to Bohemia Village Voice, about his new venture and his £100,000 investment.

How long have you been a bookmaker? “I’ve been in the betting game for 31 years – I started as a seventeen year-old with Ladbrookes because I was numerate and loved sports. I ran my own  betting shop, ‘Robert Charles’ in Rye for 21 years before selling out to a national company, ‘Bet Fred’, last year.”

Why did you sell your shop in Rye? “Bet Fred had actually applied for a licence to open a betting shop just 5 doors away from me in Rye and I went to court and objected to the application. They appealed and the case was due to go to the High Court. But in the meantime they made me a ‘big offer’ for my business and I sold to them. 

Why open in Bohemia? “I thought Bohemia would be a good spot for a new shop and looked at a couple of properties. I was definitely after one at the northern end of the shopping parade and the old Wallpaper shop was ideal. I approached Ashley Aldridge (of Alldridge & Trillwood) and we eventually agreed terms. He didn’t want to sell, so we rent the shop from him.”

The shop looks like part of a big chain. Is it? “No, it’s my only shop. I wanted it to look professional and I spent over £100,000 fitting it out. It is all state of the art. I now think it’s the second best looking betting shop in Hastings.” Which is the best? “Bet Fred in the town centre.”

How’s trade? “We’re doing alright. My son, Adam, 26, manages the shop, assisted by Dan (see picture, above) and a part-time cashier, Emily. I pop in to keep an eye on business.”

Do you allow smoking on the premises? “At the moment, yes, but when the new legislation comes in, that will stop. We have smoke extractors and air conditioning.” 

What does Bet Bet Bet 24/7 mean? “It doesn’t mean anything. The name itself was suggested by a colleague in the betting world (Joe Phillips of Gloucester) who has his own chain of shops. There are hundreds of independent betting shops in the UK and we wanted a vehicle through which we could book advertising and especially get discounts on the supply of betting information etc, and “Bet Bet Bet 24/7” was the name we used. One bookmaker on his own can’t haggle, but hundreds together have a strong bargaining power. As an example, a full page ad in the ‘Racing Post’ costs £5,000 which is out of the question for a single bookmaker, but if 500 share the cost it comes down to £10. There is no copyright to the name ‘Bet Bet Bet 24/7’ – anyone can use it. I thought I’d go one better and use the name for my new shop.” So there may well be other Bet Bet Bets popping up all over the country? “Oh, yes, but they’ll all be owned by different people.”  

What do most of your customers bet on? “Mainly it’s the horses – about 80% of our business is horse-race betting, then there’s about 12% on dog-racing and the rest is sports events betting, mostly football. We’re not allowed to sell lottery tickets or scratch cards. But we can take bets on the Irish Lottery, on which there are 42 numbers to choose from. If you can forecast three of the winning numbers you can win £500 for a £1 bet.” What would a big pay-out be? “About £10,000.”

Did the application for a betting shop licence go smoothly? “Yes, it was fine until Councillor Vivienne Bond started to object. She caused so much hassle, by not doing her research properly. Because of her objections, the application had to go to the planning board and the delay meant we missed a lot of business including the Cheltenham Cup. One of her reasons for objecting was that the Wallpaper Centre would close and Bohemia would lose a an established local business. Well, they were about to close anyway. She also said the betting shop was owned by an out of town chain. It isn’t, it’s owned by just me – and I live in Hastings. Vivienne Bond cost me thousands of pounds.”

Are you married? “No, but, apart from my grown up son and daughter, I have two young children.”

What changes has Bob seen in the betting world? “Nowadays we have a computerised settling system – which I find a bit boring, to be honest.”

Bet Bet Bet 24/7. 43, Bohemia Road, Bohemia, Sussex, TN37 6RE.  Tel: 01424 444044. Hours: 10:00 to 9:30pm, Mon-Sat. 11:00 to 6:30pm Sun. After Sept 1st, the hours will change to 6:30pm closing every day.

Vivienne Bond writes (Jul 2006)

With regard to the article “Roberts £100,000  bet bet bet” [Bohemia Village Voice, no. 32],  I should like to answer the criticism* levelled at me. As the ward Councillor I represent all the local residents and I feel that my objections to this business [the betting shop, Bet Bet Bet in Bohemia Road] on moral grounds were valid. I still do not feel that this business brings anything of value to our community as a whole. We need shops that sell fish, meat, greengrocery and a post office, rather than a betting shop that takes our hard earned cash for – usually – no return. The application for a betting shop licence could have been made at any time of the year and would most probably have co-incided with one or more race meetings. The loss of the Cheltenham Cup was never mentioned, and I feel it is unfair to drop it at my door now. Also the wallpaper shop could not close without a buyer.
Having said this, I am the first to admit that the shop and signs are bright and give a good impression as you enter Bohemia and Ive found the staff to be always very smart and helpful. Councillor Vivienne Bond.

*Note: In issue 32, Robert Prior, owner of newly opened betting shop, Bet Bet Bet, was quoted as saying, in answer to the question: ” Did the application for a betting shop licence go smoothly? “Yes, it was fine until Councillor Vivienne Bond started to object. She caused so much hassle, by not doing her research properly. Because of her objections, the application had to go to the planning board and the delay meant we missed a lot of business including the Cheltenham Cup. One of her reasons for objecting was that the Wallpaper Centre would close and Bohemia would lose an established local business. Well, they were about to close anyway. She also said the betting shop was owned by an out of town chain. It isn’t, it’s owned by just me – and I live in Hastings. Vivienne Bond cost me thousands of pounds.”

Rob Prior writes (Aug 2006)

Dear Sir,
In response to Councillor Bond’s letter in the last edition, I would like to point out that despite her objection on moral grounds to the opening of Bet Bet Bet 24/7 which was voiced at the Hastings Planning Board meeting on February 1, the fact is that when Councillor Bond made her presentation to the board outlining the reasons for her concerns, she stated I know there is nothing I can do to stop this application on planning grounds, but I thought I had to say something!

It was the frivolous nature of her objection that I took issue with, which served no purpose other than to delay the commencement of our refurbishment, cost  us a great deal of money and ensure that we missed the Cheltenham Festival which is THE biggest race meeting of the year.
To take the moral high ground with any business that wishes to invest in the area is ridiculously short-sighted, or maybe Councillor Bond would prefer to see a whole string of boarded up empty shops.

I agree that in an ideal world Bohemia Road would be full of shops that sell fish, meat, green grocery and a Post Office, but this is only going to happen if new investment regenerates the area. Maybe Councillor Bond should channel her energy into raising new investment rather than hindering businesses that are intent on moving into the area.

It would also help if in future she could research applications thoroughly before raising objections, as she was under the impression that this business was owned by people from outside Hastings (it isn’t, our planning application was made by our  development team in Liverpool), and that Aldridge & Trillwood was a long standing local business (owned and run from East Grinstead) !

Rob Prior, Bet Bet Bet 24/7, Bohemia Road.

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