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Bookies will have to beat the odds to open in town

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: April 28, 2014

William Hill in Uxbridge Street

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COUNCIL bosses in Burton have welcomed changes which will give them greater control over betting shops.

The Government has announced that local authorities will be given the power to refuse applications to open gambling premises if they think there are too many in town centres.

Leading bookmakers have hit out at the changes, insisting they are ‘anti-competition’, though critics of the establishments believe many town centres are becoming over-crowded with bookies.

It comes just weeks after East Staffordshire Borough Council joined dozens of town halls from across the country in calling for change.

Council leader Julian Mott praised local authorities for helping to push through the change and suggested gambling companies would now find it difficult to open in Burton.

He said: “Councils like East Staffordshire feel powerless to stop the spread of betting shops in their areas.

“This change has been supported by the Local Government Association and Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. The spread of betting shops has been linked with gambling addiction and crime.”

Currently, betting shops are in the same planning category as banks, estate agents, and other financial services, meaning companies do not have to apply to the local authorities to move into these buildings, nor restaurants and cafes, bars or takeaways.

Rising gambling firm Paddy Power said the move would only allow the biggest companies to create a stranglehold on the market.

A spokesman said: “Any proposed planning reform such as the creation of a new use class for licensed betting shops is anti-competitive and so ultimately bad for consumers.

“Planning reform is a distraction from the bigger issue of how to deal with problem gambling. Protecting the ‘big four’ incumbents that control 90 per cent of the market from competition is not an effective way to deal with these concerns.”

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