Landmark Councils and Betting Industry Taskforce Launched
A new landmark taskforce, being setup and chaired by the LGA, is being in an attempt to address concerns around high street betting shop clustering and the harm caused by Fixed Odds Betting Terminal machines.
Alongside the “Big Five” betting firms (i.e. BetFred, William Hill, Coral, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power) representation on the newly formed “Betting Commission” also consists of the LGA (representing local councils), Department for Communities and Local Government, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the NatCen for Social Research and the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB).
Councils have for a long time warned that ineffective licensing and planning laws leave them powerless to act on local concerns and stop the spread of betting shops in already saturated areas or areas of high deprivation.
Cllr Tony Page, LGA licensing spokesman and Commission chair, said: "The launch of this Commission is a significant landmark for councils desperate to protect communities from the damage that can be caused to high streets from clustering and to residents from the harm of problem gambling.
"Councils are not anti-bookies but are frustrated by the current licensing system which leaves them powerless to act on community concerns and limit the number of betting shops opening up in their areas.
"There are real fears that they can drive already vulnerable people towards financial ruin and that people losing money through high-stake Fixed Odds Betting Terminals are turning to payday lenders and loan sharks to pay off debts or fund their gambling.
"Credit must go to the betting industry for agreeing to join us around the table, listen to our concerns and try and find a solution. This is an opportunity for them to work with councils to demonstrate their willingness to develop solutions addressing the concerns of local communities about betting shops and FOBTs."