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Bookie’s invite to talks over betting

Gamble: A fixed odds terminal

Gamble: A fixed odds terminal

Betting shop bosses have encouraged city councillors to speak to them over concerns about the gambling industry.

Bookmakers William Hill have invited councillors to a drop-in session in the city on Wednesday.

Councillors will be able to meet with representatives from the firm and raise any questions about betting industry.

It comes after the council raised concerns over betting shops and fixed odds betting terminals in Preston.

William Hill’s public affairs manager Lewis Rogers, said: “As a major employer, we welcome the opportunity for open and frank dialogue enabling us to address key local concerns.”

However, senior councillors told the Evening Post they thought the invite was part of a ‘publicity campaign.’

The council’s ruling Labour group put a notice of motion forward at the December council meeting to pressure the Government to put the squeeze on bookies’ shops.

The action came after Preston’s 27th betting shop opened its doors.

William Hill’s invite letter to councillors says: “In light of recent concerns around betting shops on the high street William Hill’s chief executive Ralph Topping has this week said that he recognises that people have concerns and recognises the need to listen to local communities.

“He has come forward with what he believes is a solution for local councils which is to amend the Gambling Act 2005 to introduce a ‘cumulative impact’ test, whereby local councils could sensibly refuse a new betting shop application if they feel that the concentration of betting shops in a particular area is causing community concern.

“We recognise that concerns have been raised around some aspects of our business and we are keen to engage constructively in order to provide a greater understanding of the betting industry in the UK and also to address any concerns that you may have about how we operate.”

Preston Council leader Peter Rankin is unable to attend the meeting. He said: “We know what we want doing about it. I don’t think anything William Hill say will change our minds. We are very concerned about the fixed odds betting machines. We want rid of them and there are far too many betting shops.”

Deputy leader Coun John Swindells is also unable to attend the meeting. He said he thinks it is a ‘publicity campaign’, adding: “They know the way the tide is going.”

 

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