Councils to get new powers to block high street betting shops

Councils could soon have greater powers to curb high street betting shops.

Councils could soon have greater powers to curb high street betting shops.

First published in News News Shopper: Photograph of the Author by , reporter

Local authorities are expected to be given greater powers to decide whether to allow new high street betting shops to open.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is to announce a review of gambling policy, which is also expected to further measures to improve protection for people who play gambling machines.

The measures are set to allow councils to refuse a planning application if they are worried about the number of shops.

Under the current system, planning applications are not always needed for new betting shops to open.

Councils have warned that "ineffective" licensing and planning laws leave them powerless to act on community concerns and stop the spread of betting shops in already saturated areas or areas of high deprivation.

A poll earlier this month found most voters think betting machines fuel gambling addictions and should be hit by tougher restrictions.

Around two-thirds of adults believe there are too many bookmakers on Britain's high streets and half think they are deliberately placed in poorer areas, the ComRes study for The Sunday People found.

Some 63% said the fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) that are now commonplace inside encourage problem gambling and 56% want the maximum stake limit cut from £100 to £20, it added.

Punters can bet £300 a minute - £18,000 a hour - on the high speed machines and they are mainly clustered in the most deprived parts of the country.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has previously admitted his party did not go "nearly far enough" in government to control their use and has called for further curbs to be introduced.

Chancellor George Osborne announced in the Budget that the duty on FOBTs will rise to 25%.

In a submission last year to the DCMS review it said bookmakers "add to the vitality and vibrancy of the high street" and drive footfall to other businesses.

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