Lib Dems vote for more local control of betting shops

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Local Authorities are required to help achieve the licensing objectives of the 2005 Gambling Act. These are that gambling should be fair and open; should not be associated with crime and disorder; and harm to young and vulnerable people should be prevented.

The fact that different Local Authorities are having to try different methods to do their duty shows how difficult the current circumstances are.

Newham tried to object on the grounds that gaming on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) – the electronic roulette machines in betting shops – rather than betting, would be the primary use of the proposed betting shop. Southwark is proposing using the Sustainable Communities Act, and Barking and Dagenham is trying an Article 4 Direction.

We will support any sensible proposal by any party that leads to more sensible gambling regulation. The objective of the Stop the FOBTs campaign is a reduction in the maximum stake per spin from £100 to £2 in line with all other gambling machines.

The Lib Dem motion on High Street Gambling does not relate directly to this campaign objective, but we support the empowerment of Local Authorities so that they may fulfil their responsibilities under the current legislation.

We are very pleased the motion has passed. We are exhibiting at both Labour and Conservative conferences and will be getting our message out there regarding the urgent need for Government to act responsibly and apply the precautionary principle of stake reduction on FOBTs, the most addictive form of gambling.

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