Calls to limit betting shops

The William Hill branch on the corner of Waterloo Road and Lytham Road in South Shore. Below: Coun John Jones.
The William Hill branch on the corner of Waterloo Road and Lytham Road in South Shore. Below: Coun John Jones.
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FEARS have been raised over the number of betting shops opening in some of the poorest areas of Blackpool.

Councillors warned they do not want to see too many bookies operating in deprived neighbourhoods.

Coun John Jones

Coun John Jones

But Blackpool’s licensing committee was told powers to prevent clusters of the gambling shops were limited.

But the board asked staff to investigate how other councils dealt with the issue.

Coun John Jones said: “We will soon have four betting shops in close proximity to each other on Lytham Road.

“Yet Bloomfield ward is the most deprived area of the town. Research shows when we have deprived areas, people chase the easiest way of making some money and so sadly they gamble.

“Particularly in the current economic climate, I am worried they could be taking advantage of the clientele.

“I think we have a moral responsibility to the people who live in these wards and we should look at this if we can.

“I think we should be saying enough is enough.”

Coun Tony Lee said two new betting shops had opened in his Waterloo ward.

He said: “There are more betting shops than charity shops. It is worrying because the people in the area are not wealthy.”

Coun Christine Wright added: “At one time there would be a late race meeting and that would be it, but now betting shops are open late because people are betting on anything anywhere.”

The committee was told there are 41 betting offices in Blackpool, along with four casinos, six bingo halls, 22 adult gaming centres and 14 family entertainment centres which have gaming areas for adults.

There is also a gaming licence at Blackpool FC.

The committee agreed its policy under the Gambling Act as part of a review process.

In response to consultation, the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) said in a letter to the council betting shops were “an important part of the retail mix on high streets.”

ABB chief executive Dirk Vennix added in the letter: “Betting shops are highly regulated, licensed, responsible businesses who work pro-actively to tackle any issues in communities alongside the police, regulator and local 
authority.”

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