Betting shop licensing laws to be challenged
The Highland Council is to write to the UK Government seeking a change to licensing law to prevent over-provision of betting shops in a local community.
Members unanimously supported a motion proposed by Councillor Richard Laird, Inverness Central, that the Council should make representations to the UK Government requesting that it amend the 2005 Gambling Act to re-introduce over-provision as grounds to refuse an application and to permit limits on the number and type of gaming machines permitted in a premises or area.
He cited as an example of bad practice the recent approval of a third betting shop in the Merkinch area of Inverness – despite the total opposition of the local community and the disapproval of the Highland Licensing Board.
Councillor Laird recognised that the Licensing Board had no scope to challenge an application for a betting shop on the grounds of over-provision – despite the strong opposition of local people and local councillors.
Therefore, he said, the only way forward was to change the law.
He said: “The constraints of the Gambling Act are detrimental to the ability of licensing authorities to make decisions in the best interest of their communities.”
Convener of the Highland Licensing Board Councillor Maxine Smith spoke of her frustration at the Licensing Board being hamstrung by legislation.
She said: “The Licensing Board refused the application for a third betting shop in Merkinch on the clear grounds of over-provision, recognising the opposition of the local community and local councillors.
“We then had to rescind that decision because we could not resist an appeal because over-provision is not currently a reason for refusing an application. This is very frustrating and I agree that only a change to the law will right this wrong.”