Gambling machines within the borough’s poorest neighbourhoods will accept stakes of up to £100 sparking concern among community leaders.
Cheshire West and Chester Council has unanimously backed a motion asking the government to support proposals put forward by the Local Government Association (LGA) which would reduce stakes to £2.
In addition, the resolution called for local authorities to have more powers to manage clusters of gambling premises which are concentrated in the poorest areas. In Cheshire West 75% of betting shops are in the 40% most deprived neighbourhoods.
Deputy council leader Louise Gittins (Lab, Little Neston and Burton) told members at the full council meeting: “The LGA has been putting pressure on the government to carry out a full review of high stake gambling machines, sometimes called fixed odds betting machines. These machines are generally in betting shops and have stakes of up to £100. There could be up to four machines located in each of the premises and there are winnings of up to £500 to be made from different games on the machines such as roulette.
“The LGA call is to reduce this to a fixed stake of £2.”
The motion, seconded by Cllr Stuart Parker (Con, Chester Villages), comes in response to the government’s Review of Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures.
CWaC noted that the industry deliberately targets vulnerable people and there were links between problem gambling and crime, which Cllr Gittins said could include domestic violence. There was a wider problem with online gambling.
Ellesmere Port had previously launched an initiative to tackle problem gambling and Cheshire Police were aiming to launch a new initiative to tackle the issue.
Members called for gambling to be managed in line with the approach to alcohol licensing. This would mean being able to introduce a cumulative impact policy to control the number of gambling premises in a defined area and to align licensing objectives in the Gambling Act 2005 with those of the Licensing Act 2003, to include an anti-social behaviour and public nuisance objective.