Town hall gets fresh powers to stop new betting shops

Adrian Parkinson
Adrian Parkinson

WIGAN Council is to be given more powers to prevent betting shops from opening in the borough.

Gambling firms who want to open up new outlets on the high street may find they are stopped from doing so under new plans to give local authorities more control over the make-up of their high streets.

Gambling campaigner Adrian Parkinson welcomed the changes - which will allow local authorities to reject planning applications - but said they do not go far enough.

Former Tote worker Mr Parkinson believes the changes will not help the current problems caused by fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs), dubbed the crack cocaine of gambling.

The Campaign for Fairer Gambling spokesman said: “The Government has over-looked the easiest solution which is to cut the stakes on FOBTs. These measures for local councils are very welcome but quite simply, the Government has failed to deal with the root of the problem.

“They have failed to give councils greater powers over imposing conditions on betting shops and you have to remember that these measures will not deal with the clustering of shops retrospectively. Those areas with problems already will still have those problems even when these measures are introduced.”

Under current regulations, betting chains are not required to submit planning applications for new shops to open. The changes will class firms as a different business type, meaning planning applications will be needed, which can then be assessed by council officials.

At a meeting of Wigan full council earlier this year, councillors voted for action to be taken regarding the number of FOBTs available in the borough stating that the machines allow gamblers to bet at a rate “four times faster than you can in a casino”.