London borough leads landmark primary clause row against LBO


Newham Council in East London has rejected an application for a new Paddy Power betting shop in its borough because it claims that it will make more money from machines than from traditional horse and sports betting.

Councillor Ian Corbett, chairman of the licensing sub-committee, said: ‘We are the first council to invoke the primacy clause to reject a licence application, as we are unconvinced that at least half of the gambling on premises would have been traditional betting. We are increasingly concerned about the number of gaming machines in Newham and their impact on our high streets. Not only that, we are concerned at the high proportion of incidents of crime and disorder and that betting shops are part of the problem.’

It is suspected that a number of betting shops could be affected by the outcome of this case, which is being repudiated by Irish bookmakers Paddy Power. A spokesman for the Gambling Commission admitted that if betting shops were seen to fall into ‘non-compliance’ under the 2005 Act, which states traditional betting must be the primary activity, local authorities could review new and existing licences.

Until now, town halls have complained that they can block betting shop applications only if there is evidence that there will be an increase in crime, a threat to the vulnerable, or there is proof of unfair gambling, which is difficult to establish before a shop has opened. 

Previous decisions to reject applications have often been overturned on appeal. In many cases, councils withdraw their objections as they are liable for costs if they lose. This has led to accusations that councils are being ‘bullied’ by expensive legal teams brought in by the bookies. 

A spokeswoman for Paddy Power said: ‘We do not agree with Newham’s reasons for refusing our licence application and are appealing. We are occasionally the victims of crime, but not the cause.’

A Newham Council source said that it was not anti-gambling, but there were already 81 bookmakers in the area and four applications pending.

‘We mapped out where crimes and disorder take place and compared that with where the betting shops are – and it lit up like a Christmas tree,’ said the source.

The Association of British Bookmakers said Newham’s decision ‘appears to be at odds with the Gambling Commission’s advice and guidance on this issue.

‘There is a misconception that there must be more profit or turnover from betting than machines to satisfy primary gambling activity. That is simply not the case.’

Comments (2)

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At last someone stands up to the bookies normally they run scared knowing the bookie will appeal and the. council will be liable for costs.
I would be interested how many AGC ‘s have closed in the last 5 years compared to bookies
Thanks Steph
Enjoy the e mail every week

Michael Webber
27/02/2013, 18:49

I left the AWP supply Industry 12 years ago; one reason being the spread of FOBT’s which were already adversely impacting on pub awp trade.
These machines are now a staple of betting shops and the money being ripped out of the High Street by their operators is terrifying.
I sincerely hope that this council move is successful, the whole estate needs a sort-out.

retired operator
28/02/2013, 09:28

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