An amendment to British betting shop controls has been thrown out by parliament. The changes would have given local councils the power to curtail the “clustering” of bookies in towns across the UK. It comes after many months in which campaigners have railed against the amount of betting shops springing up across urban areas of Britain – especially in London.
David Lammy was the Labour MP to suggest the amendment to a new Localism Bill heading through the Commons. It’s claimed the growing number of shops has turned high streets into “cloned ghost towns.” Lammy obviously still sleeps with the light on.
The amendment was backed by 221 Labour backbenchers. These would be the same Labour MPs that pushed so hard for gaming premises during their time in parliament. Also the Gambling Act 2005, that gave betting shops an easier ride, was passed whilst Tony Blair’s government was still in charge.
After being defeated by 315 Tory and Lib Dem MPs, Lammy told GamblingCompliance, “There is absolutely no reason why the government could not support this. For too long we have seen great local amenities and iconic buildings being replaced by endless numbers of bookmakers. There are streets in London that look more like Las Vegas without any of the glitz or glamour.”
If passed, the bill would also have banned bookies from taking up residence in certain premises such as former banks, estate agents, pubs, takeaways, and restaurants without prior planning permission.
Spokesperson for William Hill, Graham Sharpe, told GamblingCompliance, “If there are vacant premises a bookmaker thinks it could usefully use, surely it’s better to have a premises in use than lying dormant – but maybe I’m biased. We don’t make the rules that govern where and how many betting shops there can be, we simply abide by them.”
There are also Dr Patrick Basham’s comments that visiting betting premises is in fact good for you. Retirees who “remain active in the community and constantly engage in social activity, often, largely or exclusively through gambling, live happier and healthier lives.” So the more premises on offer, the more chances there are for people to be happier and healthier.