Thursday, 7 November 2013

My objection to Ladbrokes

482 Wilbraham Road
Last month I blogged about an application by Ladbrokes to convert 482 Wilbraham Road into a betting shop. Residents raised concerns with me about this application. This is the response I sent to the Licensing Department:

"I am writing to object to the above application from Ladbrokes for a new betting shop located in premises at 482 Wilbraham Rd. If granted, this would be the sixth betting shop in Chorlton. This is far more than is required in one district and would be detrimental to Chorlton's reputation as an area of high quality independent shops. An additional Betting Shop is preventing an independent retailer from using the premises and encouraging the creation of jobs and regeneration and prosperity of the area. An additional betting shop is also inconsistent with the Council's own regeneration plans for Chorlton as set out in the Chorlton District Centre Plan.   

The over representation of betting shops is generated by the industry's desire to place Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs). As one shop can only have four FOBTs bookmakers are opening many shops in close proximity to maximise the revenue these gaming machines generate. FOBTs are highly addictive and can help exacerbate gambling problems. The clustering of betting shops results in problem gamblers moving between shops and FOBTs to satisfy their addiction. It is possible to bet £100 every 20 seconds at a FOBT which can encourage and exacerbate problem gambling. A Betting Shop is defined as a "Licensed Betting Office” however FOBT is a form of gaming and very different from traditional betting. Newham Council recently rejected an application for a betting shop on this Primary Gambling Activity basis.

I am concerned that allowing this license could encourage antisocial behavior, criminal damage and begging. Crime statistics show these problems are associated with betting shops across the city. This is particularly unacceptable given the proximity of residential areas and schools.

It is difficult to prevent under age gambling on FOBTs. I am also concerned about problem gamblers who have voluntarily self excluded being tempted by a new shop and FOBT. 

I encourage the panel to reject this application."

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