Concern over the amount of betting shops in Scotland’s high streets has today been raised by the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Regeneration Committee.
During its ongoing inquiry into fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs), the Committee heard about the difficulties faced by local authorities when trying to limit the number of betting shops within their communities.
As a result, the Committee has today written to the Chair of the Review of the Scottish Planning System expressing concern that local authorities are powerless to prevent betting shops opening new premises, even when they are already prevalent in the area.
Committee Convener Kevin Stewart MSP said:
“As we began our inquiry into fixed odds betting terminals, it quickly became clear to us there is disquiet about the number of betting shops in communities across Scotland with void properties being replaced with bookmakers.
“There is a real concern local government is powerless to prevent the increase in the number of betting shops as the betting industry seeks to maximise revenue. We heard about one community in Glasgow where there are three bookmakers in one parade of shops, each of those bookmakers having four fixed-odds betting terminals.
“Today’s letter makes it clear consideration should be given to placing betting shops in a distinct planning class in order that issues – such as over provision – can be taken into account”.
The Committee has also written to the 32 licensing boards to encourage them to write to the Review of the Scottish Planning System on this issue.
The Committee is currently undertaking an inquiry into the provisions set out in clause 49 of the Scotland Bill. These provisions propose to devolve powers to Scottish Ministers to limit the number of FOBTs when new betting licences are granted.
During evidence taking the Committee heard from Councillor Paul Rooney, Glasgow City Council and Councillor John McAlpine, Argyll and Bute Council who stated that there were no current measures to address over provision.
Read the Official Report from the meeting.
The Committee’s is due to publish its report to the Devolution (Further Powers) Committee on FOBTs in December.