UK Ministers to Give Local Councils Authority to Control Betting Shop Proliferation

In response to calls for changes in UK’s licensing systems, British parliamentary ministers are currently drawing up additional amendments to the country’s Gambling Licensing and Advertising law. The planned reforms will give local authorities the power to end the unceasing proliferation of betting shops; as such outlets are now regarded as blights to UK’s high streets.

As it is, the present licensing system is quite tolerant since it allows bookmakers to easily convert vacant commercial spaces into new betting outlets without the need to obtain additional permits. Although the Federation of Small Businesses for Gloucestershire and the South West, states that the number of betting shops in the country is still below the national average; gambling critics contend that bookmakers are opening up more shops in order to optimize profits being realized from the highly-addictive high-stakes Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBT) installed in retail outlets. Reports have it that UK’s bookmaking industry has been profiting as much £1B annually from FOBT operations.

The Local Government Association (LGA) explains that they are not against bookmakers, but the country’s more than 370 councils have to have the authority to control the potential damages posed by the clustering of betting shops and FOBTs in their area. The proposed amendment coming from the Labour Party is to categorize the betting shops into a different class, as this will allow local councils to devise plans in controlling the number of outlets operating in their towns and cities. Another proposal is to give councils authority to require betting companies to provide proof that new outlets will not adversely affect other existing businesses and the local economy as a whole.