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Local Councils To Get New Powers To Stop the Spread of High Street Bookies

April 29, 2014
Licensing

gamblingPrime Minister David Cameron will announce this week that local authorities will be granted more powers to stop the proliferation of betting shops in their areas. A new planning class for betting shops is to be created, allowing councils to look at applications more closely than those from other retailers.

Under current rules, bookmakers are able to take over previous retail premises without applying for a change of use. The Local Government Association is fully behind the new move, with a spokesperson saying: “Anything brought forward by the government that helps communities protect their high streets from clustering is a good thing. Ministers have recognised that the public want them to do something.”

A month ago, Chancellor George Osborne raised the tax on fixed odds betting machines, a move that prominent betting company William Hill claim may lead to them being forced to close 109 of their 2,434 shops. The new requirements will also put the onus on applicants to prove how they would comply with measures to protect gamblers, including controls over window displays.

The Advertising Standards Authority are currently reviewing the codes for gambling advertising, with a report due in the autumn. Figures from the Office of National Statistics suggest that the average household in the UK spent £166 on gambling in 2013, while the number of bookmakers rose by 4%.