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Under the Gambling Act 2005, a betting shop needs a premises licence, issued by the local licensing authority. Objections can be raised against an application for a new licence by interested parties (e.g. people living close by) and responsible authorities (e.g. the police). It is also possible to trigger a review of an existing licence.

The only objections that are likely to be relevant are those that relate to the Gambling Act’s licensing objectives, or that raise issues under a licensing policy statement, or the Gambling Commission’s guidance (September 2016) and codes of practice (October 2020). The Act’s licensing objectives are:

  • preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime;
  • ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way; and
  • protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.

The 2005 Act abolished an earlier “demand test” for granting licences to open new gambling premises. The Act places a duty on the Gambling Commission to aim to permit gambling “in so far as the Commission think it reasonably consistent with pursuit of the licensing objectives”. This has led to concerns about the “clustering” of betting shops. A July 2020 Lords Committee report found that “the liberalisation of the regulation of gambling has led to an increased presence of gambling services on the high street.” It recommended that local authorities should be given powers to limit the number of new premises.

Concerns had also been expressed about local planning authorities’ ability to control the number of betting shops on the high street. The rules on permitted development and change of use were changed in April 2015, so that change of use to a betting shop requires planning permission.

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