LGA examines betting shop concerns

Councils are setting up a taskforce to tackle concerns about the "damaging" impact on high streets of growing numbers of betting shops.

Local government officials are to meet bookmakers about the spread of betting shops on the high street
A number of high-profile footballers have received fines for betting on football matches.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said leading betting companies had agreed to discuss the issue, as well as problem gambling.

Councils have warned that "ineffective" licensing and planning laws leave them powerless to act on community concerns and stop the spread of betting shops in already saturated areas or areas of high deprivation.

The first meeting of the taskforce today will consider options including a national voluntary agreement between local government and the betting shops, and changes to legislation controlling betting shops.

Tony Page, the LGA's licensing spokesman, said: "The launch of this commission is a significant landmark for councils desperate to protect communities from the damage that can be caused to high streets from clustering and to residents from the harm of problem gambling.

"Councils are not anti-bookies but are frustrated by the current licensing system which leaves them powerless to act on community concerns and limit the number of betting shops opening up in their areas.

"There are real fears that they can drive already vulnerable people towards financial ruin and that people losing money through high-stake fixed odds betting terminals are turning to payday lenders and loan sharks to pay off debts or fund their gambling."