At last! A move to end ‘bookie blight’

After years of pressure from local authorities the government are finally going to take steps to prevent the spread of high street betting offices. A recent court case ruled that councils could not stop gaming companies from buying up units and converting them to betting offices because they did not require specific planning permission.

But this morning the BBC are reporting that the government are preparing to change the gambling laws to require a separate planning consent for betting shops and to allow planning authorities to take into consideration the cumulative impact of a proliferation of these shops on local retail shopping.

We are already seeing the growing number of these shops in Bearwood with three betting shops separated only by the Iceland store following a recent acquisition.

The other pleasing aspect is the suggestion that there will be a tightening up of regulation of the high stakes gaming machines in betting offices.

However, a word of caution is necessary. The betting lobby is very strong and had a big influence on the loosening of regulation in the 2005 Gambling Act and with billions of pounds of revenue at stake, you can be sure they won't take this lightly. Promises fed to the media in a pre-election period are easy to make – actual implementation is something else entirely.

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