Manchester Labour councillors and local residents campaign against a new betting shop in the city centre
Manchester City Council has today joined forces with 92 authorities up and down the country calling on the government to halt the proliferation of high street bookies in local communities, following a campaign by your city centre Labour councillors.
Manchester City Council is backing Newham Council’s Sustainable Communities Act proposal demanding that the maximum stakes on B2 gaming machines, also known as fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs), inside betting shops be reduced from £100 a spin to £2 - bringing them in line with other gaming machines.
Local authorities have seen a rise in the number of bookmakers clustering in one locality, taking advantage of limited licensing and planning regulations. Big-name chains have been targeting the country’s high streets, especially in more deprived areas. There are double the number of betting shops in the 55 most deprived areas of England, compared to the 115 most affluent localities. Manchester city centre has more than 25 bookies.
Each betting shop can operate up to four B2 FOBTs, these offer casino-style games which allow bets of up to £100 every 20 seconds. In response to the cap on machines companies have opened multiple stores close together, to facilitate more terminals, an important element of their business operation.
Cllr Kevin Peel, who has led the Manchester campaign against FOBTs for the last two years, said:
"Local authorities have been fighting hard to ensure the viability of the nation’s high streets throughout the economic downturn, but our battle with the betting shops has been thwarted by the lack of tough regulations and the toothless court system. Some 93 local authorities in England and Wales have thrown their weight behind this proposal, because they feel, as we do, that betting magnates are only concerned about making a quick buck on a computer roulette-wheel, rather than becoming a cornerstone of our communities.
"All of these councils want to see their high streets as welcoming and vibrant areas, with a mix of retail, community and leisure use. We expect that the Government will hear this loud cross-party call, and we demand swift action to
save our town centres."
Earlier this month an Ipsos Mori poll found that 70 per cent of respondents believed that the maximum bet of £100 on FOBTS is too much. And a YouGov survey from April 2014 saw 61 per cent of respondents supporting a reduction on the maximum stake to £2 per spin, bringing them in line with gaming machines available in bingo halls, amusement arcades and adult gaming centres.