The embattled retail betting sector in the UK sustained another blow on Tuesday when a London council announced that they would be changing their policy on betting shop location.
Tower Hamlets Council, in the east of the city, said that they were amending their existing protocols. The new rules would prevent the opening of new shops in a variety of areas in the Tower Hamlets borough. It is the latest move against the betting industry by a council that was one of the leading campaigners for the restriction of the maximum stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs).
Under the terms of their new policy, betting operators will not be permitted to open new retail betting premises nearby to schools, elderly care homes, hospitals, or venues that host meetings of Gamblers Anonymous. Speaking about the decision, a Corporate Director at the council, Ann Sutcliffe, said that there was a risk of young and vulnerable people being lured into betting, at a cost to society:
“Having a strong gambling policy provides us with the powers to stem the proliferation of new premises, to stop gambling and debt becoming a trigger for crime and disorder, while also preventing the targeting of children and vulnerable people.”
The changes are part of a wider strategy committing the council to the protection of vulnerable adults and children from gambling. It is also an element of the renewal of the council’s policy on gambling, a review that takes place over a three-year cycle.
Earlier this year, the council, had staged a consultation that ran for 12 weeks. It is reported that this exercise produced evidence of significant concerns on the part of residents in Tower Hamlets, over the effect of retail betting shops. The council say that the policy will come into effect on December 14.