New powers aimed at controlling the number of bookmakers in cities like Sheffield have been unveiled – days after The Star called for the changes.
Under new plans revealed by the Government, betting shops will have to apply for permission to open – rather than being able to automatically convert from a former use.
Bookies and payday loan stores will be placed in their own planning category, meaning authorities such as Sheffield Council will have more control over the number and location of betting shops – and the fixed-odds betting terminals in them.
Stephen Williams, communities minister, said: “Across the country, many people are concerned about the explosion in the number of betting shops in some high streets.
“The Coalition Government is determined to build a stronger economy and a fairer society with healthy and diverse high streets that aren’t dominated by betting shops.
“This is why we are giving councils tough new powers to prevent the proliferation of betting shops in their area.”
Fixed-odds betting terminals, often dubbed the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling, will require those betting more than £50 to pay over the counter, forcing an interaction with staff.
Coun Leigh Bramall, who first brought the motion to Sheffield Council, said: “The news the Government appears to be listening on this issue and acting in response is a positive.
“There is a consultation in the summer and what we are wary of is that they give with one hand and take with the other, so we need to see the details. However, on the face of it, it looks like good news.
“I think without the interventions that have been made and the campaign The Star has been backing this change wouldn’t be happening.”
On fixed-odds terminals, he said: “I think we need to see more details before we can decide whether that’s a good thing, but we are moving in the right direction.”