A campaign demanding a change in planning law to prevent the spread of betting shops has gained the support of Luton Borough Council.
LBC is one of 63 local authorities backing a proposal by Hackney Council to reclassify betting shops, which would allow councils to reject planning applications submitted by bookmakers. Currently betting shops are classed as A2 financial services, which means they are in the same planning category as banks and estate agents.
The Campaign For Fairer Gambling says that last year more than £22.3m was inserted into fixed odds betting terminals in Luton- leading to losses of £4.25m. At present, it is possible to stake up to £100 every 20 seconds on the terminals.
Matt Zarb-Cousin, from the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, said: “Whilst putting betting shops back in their own use class is a welcome step in the right direction, at best it will stem the problem of fixed odds betting terminals rather than solve it. To be fully effective, planning reforms should also include a demand test.
“Councils should not have to aim to permit new betting shops either, and they should not be subjected to legal challenges when they object. Alongside planning reforms, the Government should consider reducing the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals to £2 per spin. This would stop bookmakers opening multiple outlets on the high street.”