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New betting shop licence refused in Westminster

Westminster City Council has recently refused to grant Power Leisure Limited a premises licence under Gambling Act 2005 for a proposed new betting shop on Edgware Road, following objections from the licensing authority itself, and local residents.

Power Leisure Limited is the operator of the well-known ‘Paddy Power’ chain. The proposed site was in close proximity to a number of other betting shops, and a number of residents had raised the issue of an undesirable proliferation of betting shops in the area. Strictly speaking, proliferation is not by itself relevant to determinations of applications for betting shop licences, but the official Guidance to the Gambling Act states that it may be relevant if it points as a result to other specific problems.

The Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee considered that there was a real danger of exacerbating existing problems should the application be granted; in doing so, they considered the precise location and context of the specific premises in question. For example, there were known to be a number of hostels for the homeless and vulnerable in the area, and the licensing authority itself had produced evidence to demonstrate a causal link between problem gambling and the homeless. Power Leisure Limited has appealed the decision to the Magistrates’ Court.

Although it was a Gambling Act case, it reinforces the importance of residents being as specific as possible about the location of a licensed premises about which they are seeking to make representations under any licensing legislation. It is a fundamental general principle that each application is dealt with on its own merits, and the location and context of a premises should feature prominently on the list of issues which a Sub-Committee should take into account when determining an application.