March 8 2014 Latest news:
Russ Lawrence, News Editor
Sunday, January 12, 2014
A chain of high street bookmakers has withdrawn an application to extend the licensing hours of its four Newham betting shops from 10pm to 11pm after councillors suspected the main activity would be gambling on gaming machines as horse racing and other sports would have finished well before 10pm..
Newham Council, the licensing authority, objected to the application submitted by Betfred Bookmakers which has shops in igh Street North and Plashet Grove, East Ham, because it believed the main benefit would be to allow it to operate Fixed Odd Betting Terminals at the premises for a longer period of time.
Fixed Odd Betting Terminals have been described as the “crack cocaine of gambling” because of their addictive nature which allows people to gamble up to £100 every 20 seconds causing large sums of money to be lost very quickly.
The council also objected to the application on the grounds that it considered that granting the application would be detrimental to the local area and would not be appropriate for the location.
Local councillors supported the objections and in letters submitted to the council, stated that the longer opening hours would attract those that had been frequenting the local pubs resulting in crime and disorder.
In addition, people who were unable to make informed or balanced decisions about gambling because they had been drinking would fall prey to betting more than they could afford.
The council gave Betfred the opportunity to counter the concerns raised, however they failed to provide any evidence to the contrary and withdrew their application.
It is not the first time the council has questioned the primary activity of bookies. Earlier this year, Newham Council rejected a licensing application from Paddy Power for a betting shop at 297 Green Street as there were already 85 betting shops operating in the borough at the time.
One of the grounds for refusing the application was that its “primary activity” would be from fixed odds betting terminals rather than a traditional betting shop.
Paddy Power appealed the decision and the case was heard by District Judge Goldsmith at Thames Magistrates’ Court where he overturned the council’s decision. A judicial review of the judge’s decisions is set to take place in the New Year.
Councillor Ian Corbett, executive member for infrastructure and the environment, said: “We are pleased that Betfred withdrew its application in the face of strong opposition from the council and councillors.
“We are very concerned about the bookies trying to extend their hours to allow them to make more profits from their gaming machines, after the opportunities for traditional betting have finished for the day.