The Local Government Authority has published “a whole council approach” to “tackling gambling related harm”, including a warning that councils must monitor changes to their local gambling landscape following the implementation of the FOBT stake cut.
In fact, the document regularly mentions the impact of bookmakers on the high street, detailing the ways in which councils can control shop numbers and proximities. To its credit, the LGA manages to successfully make the distinction that many councils have failed to in recent years; that only betting shops have FOBTs, not adult gaming centres.
While the document will hopefully help such councils correct that misinformation, it also warns local authorities to stay alert following the implementation of the FOBT stake cut.
“It remains to be seen what impact the Government’s proposed reduction of maximum FOBT stakes will have on the presence of betting shops on high streets once it is introduced,” stated the document, co-signed by Warwickshire County Council leader Izzi Seccombe OBE, and Blackpool council leader Simon Blackburn. “There will be a need to monitor how the change impacts the overall market for non-remote gambling and the implications for numbers of different gambling premises, not just betting shops. “Depending on this, councils may wish to reflect any changes in trends in their local plans.”
In short, the LGA is advising councils to keep an eye on their local AGC sector if betting shops close down. Indeed, if AGC operators do takeover as the leading gambling industry representative on the high street, it may take a while to repair the reputational damage caused by FOBTs.