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Councils need more powers to stop new betting shops
Brighton and Hove City Council claims it needs to be given more powers to stop new betting shops opening.
Currently betting companies can move into former bank or estate agent premises without asking for permission, as under planning law they are all classed in the same categories as financial services.
Brighton and Hove City Council has called on the Government to change planning laws to put betting shops in their own category and make it easier for local authorities to reject them.
The Campaign for Fairer Gambling has backed the council’s call, which is also being supported by a group of 63 local authorities that are also asking for the change.
One of the major issues in the rise of betting shops is their use of fixed odds betting terminals, which have been dubbed the “crack cocaine of gambling” because they are deemed to have addictive characteristics.
£10 million losses Bookmakers are limited to four terminals per shop, but many have been accused of massing “clusters” of shops close together with four machines in each one.
According to the campaign group more than £52 million was spent by gamblers in these machines in Brighton and Hove leading to nearly £10 million of losses.
Matt Zarb-Cousin, a spokesman for the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, said: “Councils should not have to aim to permit new betting shops and they should not be subjected to legal challenges when they object.
“Whilst putting betting shops back in their own use class is a welcome step in the right direction, at best it will stem the problem of fixed odds betting terminals rather than solve it.
“To be fully effective, planning reforms should also include a demand test.”
In December last year Labour councillor Emma Daniel introduced a Notice of Motion to the authority raising concerns about the rise of betting shops and in |particular their use of fixed betting terminals.
In the motion, she said: “Local authorities should be given the powers to protect the local amenity and wellbeing of communities by 1) stopping the proliferation of betting shops and 2) reducing the maximum stakes and slowing down the speed of play.”
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