Call for Whitehall to limit betting shops

THE council has joined with more than 60 local authorities calling for the Government to change planning law to stop the spread of betting shops.

At present, betting shops are classed as A2 financial services, which means they are in the same planning category as banks and estate agents.

This means they very often move into premises without requiring planning permission. Bookmakers are then easily able to acquire a premise license as the law states councils must ‘aim to permit’ new betting shops.

If successful, the campaign to put betting shops back in their own planning use class would enable councils to refuse new planning applications from bookmakers.

Local Works, which has amassed the support of 63 local authorities from across the country, said the proliferation of betting shops has caused an increase in gambling addiction.

Bookmakers are limited to four terminals per shop, a regulation that is circumvented by opening as many outlets as possible, according to campaigners.

Matt Zarb-Cousin, from the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, said: “While 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.

“Councils should not have to aim to permit new betting shops either, and they should not be subjected to legal challenges when they object.”