Councils join forces to fight the spread of betting shops

Fixed odds betting terminals
Fixed odds betting terminals
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Preston has joined forces with 62 other councils in a declaration of war on betting shops.

The move comes just days after the borough’s planning committee took the rare step of booting out the latest application for a bookies in the city centre.

Preston now has approaching 30 bookmakers’ shops and councillors decided this week: “Enough is enough.”

“Another was seen as one too far by the planning committee,” revealed the city council’s deputy leader Coun John Swindells.

“I’m sure it will go to appeal and, if recent cases are anything to go by, the bookies will probably win. But it was felt we had to stick our heads above the parapet and say enough is enough.”

Councils have now come together in an bid to halt the rapid spread of betting shops which critics say is being fuelled by the massive profits bookmakers can make from fixed odds betting terminals - branded the “crack cocaine of gambling.”

Betting chains are accused of opening dozens more shops to cash in on the machines which can cost addicted punters up to £100 every 20 seconds.

Last year £18.5m was fed into the terminals in Preston alone, with gamblers in the city losing £3.5m in total.

Coun Swindells said: “At present we are effectively powerless to prevent betting shops opening and we would like the power to say ‘no.’ But that would need a change in legislation and without that there is little we can do.

“By joining together with other councils across the country to fight this we hope strength in numbers will give us a bigger lobbying group to try and get that change and allow us to control the number of betting shops.”