24th of February 2013 Author: Johnny Karp
In light of the Newham Council's decision to refuse granting Paddy Power permission to open a betting shop in East London many questions started arising, including the crucial one - whether the machine action on FOBTs dominates "traditional betting?"
According to Newham, the first UK council to invoke the "primacy clause" in the 2005 Gambling Act, more than half the wagering in High Street betting shops needs to be on "traditional betting" such as horse racing and OTC sports bets, and FOBTs have disturbed such balance.
Explaining the decision, Councillor Ian Corbett, chairman of the licensing sub-committee, said: "We are the first council to invoke the primacy clause to reject a licence application, as we are unconvinced that at least half of the gambling on premises would have been traditional betting.
"We are increasingly concerned about the number of gaming machines in Newham and their impact on our high streets. Not only that, we are concerned at the high proportion of incidents of crime and disorder and that betting shops are part of the problem."
What this non-compliance with the 2005 Act may cause, opined the UK Gambling Commission, is that local authorities could review new and existing licenses.
Now, from the aspect of Paddy Power, which plans to appeal the Newham decision, betting shops are not the cause of increased crime. "We are occasionally the victims of crime, but not the cause," said the company's spokesman.
Similarly, the Association of British Bookmakers found Newham's decision at odds with the Gambling Commission's advice and guidance.
"There is a misconception that there must be more profit or turnover from betting than machines to satisfy primary gambling activity. That is simply not the case," commented the Association spokesman.
On the other side, a source from the Newham Council said that while it was not anti-gambling, there's the question of already 81 bookmakers in the area and four applications pending.
"We mapped out where crimes and disorder take place and compared that with where the betting shops are - and it lit up like a Christmas tree,' specified the anonymous source.
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