Gambling

Written evidence submitted by Heart of Haringey (GA 078)

I write on behalf of the Heart of Haringey. The Group was formed to protest the clustering of betting shops in the Green Lanes town centre, which is located in the London Borough of Haringey.

The protest started in July 2007, as several applications for premises licenses had been lodged prior to the Act coming into effect. Since 2007 many applications have been lodged and the protest against clustering grew in response. Thousands of petition signatures were collected and many letters of objections were written... all to no avail. The applications were all granted. The LA’s starting point when determining applications under the Act is to grant permission. Under the Act the demand test no longer applies and the avenues of objection open to local people, the 1st and 3rd licensing objectives – crime and children, are far too narrow in scope to be of use.

We are concerned that gambling operators and their lobbyists will try to get an increase of the number of FOBTs each outlet can feature undercover of the review, on the grounds that offshore online gambling is affecting the viability of their businesses. But we do not agree. We believe the maximum number of FOBTs permitted in each outlet should be reduced from four to one or two. Given the FOBT’s addictive nature and their high concentration in deprived areas, as in Haringey that is where most of the betting shops (85%) are clustered, there is a case for banning FOBTs outright.

We believe that Haringey Council is making a submission to the select committee’s review which includes a link to its overview and scrutiny committee’s recent report, "the clustering of betting shops in Haringey". The appendices show the correspondence between the council and the government about managing the clustering of betting shops. The government advised the council to apply an Article 4 Direction to limit permitted development rights in specific areas. But according to the scrutiny committee’s report implementing an Article 4 Direction is a lengthy, costly and complicated process making it an unattractive option. It is also open to possible legal challenge.

We would like to give evidence to the select committee when it holds oral sessions in September, and to be kept informed of progress of the committee’s review and its outcome.

June 2011

Prepared 1st August 2011