Crackdown on spread of bookies Council to revise policy to limit number of new shops
COUNCIL licensing chiefs have vowed to crack down on the number of betting shops in Birmingham.
The city council has proposed revisions to its gambling policy which will include a requirement for ‘local risk assessments’ in relation to applications for new bookmakers.
The licensing and public protection committee was told the move would give officers more powers to block them in areas where there are already several. Councillor Mike Leddy (Lab, Brandwood and King’s Heath) called for a cap on the number of bookmakers in certain areas to be imposed by a similar mechanism to the council’s Cumulative Impact Zone (CIZ) policy, which restricts how many alcohol establishments can open up in one place.
He said: “I’m absolutely astonished to hear that there is no legal requirement around having a parade of shops and each one being a betting shop.
“If we can have a CIZ for drinking premises why can’t we have something similar for gambling premises? If it’s not law can we as a committee write to Secretary of State?
“There needs to be steps to limit the maximum number of licensed premises for gambling in a particular area.”
He claimed: “People who go into the bookies are those that can least afford to and the most deprived, wanting to get a quick buck in the pocket.”
It was explained that the council is governed by different pieces of legislation in relation to drinking premises and gambling venues.
The new policy is set to take effect from February.
Shawn Woodcock, licensing operations manager, said: “There has been
People who go into the bookies are those that can least afford to and the most deprived Cllr Mike Leddy
occasions where there may be too many betting shops in one area but without a local risk assessment we’ve not been able to object. We can now and we will.”
Questions were also raised around measures gambling shops take to protect people losing too much money.
Head of licensing, Chris Neville, said that most bookmakers were very “sophisticated” with computers telling them how much had been bet on each fixed odds betting terminal inside the venue.
> The city cannot currently limit the number of bookies in any one area