Sheffield betting campaign goes national

Sheffield  Coun Leigh Bramall
Sheffield Coun Leigh Bramall

Councils across the country have joined calls from Sheffield to curb the number of betting machines.

Sheffield Council members backed a motion earlier this year calling for action as fixed-odds betting terminals in betting shops were reportedly being targeted at some of the poorest areas of Sheffield.

Figures show the highly addictive terminals – likened to ‘crack cocaine’ – are concentrated in communities such as south-east Sheffield and Darnall, rather than more affluent areas of the city like Hallam.

Now the Local Government Association is calling for tough powers to tackle ‘clustering’ of betting shops, as well as the risks of such betting terminals.

Almost 100 English councils have also submitted individual requests to government ministers bidding to be able to reduce the maximum stake and reject applications.

Tony Page, LGA licensing spokesman, said: ‘Councils are not anti-bookies, but many are frustrated by limited powers available to them to act on community concerns and limit the number of shops opening up in their area.”

The association wants a new ‘cumulative impact test’, which would give councils the power to veto new betting shops in areas that already have many, if it cannot be proven they would benefit the local economy.

Coun Leigh Bramall, Sheffield Council cabinet member for development, submitted the motion earlier this year, as one compulsive gambler in Sheffield revealed he took out 13 bank loans and ended up behind bars after stealing more than £300,000 from work to feed his addiction.

Coun Bramall said: “All we are saying is give councils greater powers to control the number of betting shops just as we do with other shops.

“Not only do fixed-odds betting terminals create problems for communities already struggling with issues such as high unemployment, but they are also denying local businesses money.”