Be at stake’ after clampdown
The number of gambling businesses in Maidstone has remained steady since 2010, despite national concerns about betting shops taking over high streets.
The area has 15 gambling businesses, the same number it had seven years ago, according to the register of businesses held by the Office for National Statistics.
Nationally, the UK’s high streets had 11,370 gambling businesses in 2017, 4% fewer than seven years earlier.
The Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) warns some businesses may be forced to shut down for good following a government clampdown.
Earlier this year Minister for Sport and Civil Society, Tracey Crouch, announced tighter measures for fixed odds betting machines, dubbed the “crack cocaine” of gambling.
Subject to a Parliamentary vote next year, the maximum stakes are to be reduced from £100 to £2. A spokesperson from the ABB said: “We anticipate that between 3,000 and 4,000 betting shops will close on high streets and in town centres across the country by 2020. As a result 15,000 to 20,000 high street jobs could be lost.”
Data from the Gambling Commission shows that from October 2016 to September 2017, the gambling industry in the UK made £13.9 billion in profit, a third of it coming from online gambling.
Marc Etches, chief executive of the charity Gamble Aware, is now calling for better regulation of the internet industry, which allows people to gamble using credit cards. A historic grade II listed hotel in Hawkhurst is planning to expand.
Owners of The Queen’s Inn in Rye Road have applied for permission to add eight bedrooms, amounting to 83 square metres of extra space, and to extend the roof.
The building, which dates back to the 16th century, was originally part of Fowler’s Park Estate, where topographer Richard Kilburne wrote the first Kent County Survey.
But because of its historical significance and the scale of the work, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council has been left uncertain over whether to approve the application.
Planning officer James Moysey said he needed to hear “robust justification” for the number of bedrooms required to avoid substantial harm to the heritage of the building.
A date for the final decision has not yet been set.