SOUTH Tyneside Council is to be given more power to control the number of betting shops opening as part of a government review of gambling policy.
Last month the Gazette revealed how £4.5m was lost by South Tynesiders playing fixed odds gambling machines last year.
However, in a new move, gambling firms who want to open up new betting shops on the high street in the future may find they are stopped from doing so under new plans to give local authorities more control over the make-up of their shopping areas.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said local communities up and down the country had expressed concerns about the clustering of betting shops on some high streets.
Coun Tracey Dixon, lead member for area management and community safety on South Tyneside Council, said: “We supported the introduction of a new planning classification for betting shops so we welcome this move.
“The proliferation of bookmakers is having a negative impact in other areas of the country.
“We are keen to ensure that this doesn’t happen in South Tyneside and that we have a vibrant mix of retail and business outlets.
“For the Government to hand more control to local planning authorities is a significant step in the right direction.”
The Government said it was also looking at controls on gambling advertising, including requiring betting firms to show how they were complying with social responsibility codes when they applied for a license, ensuring that controls on gambling advertising provided enough protection and working with the industry to explore initiatives to help prevent under-age access to gambling.
And it has set out plans to improve protections for players on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), including making those who want to bet more than £50 in one play to pay over the counter, meaning that they have to interact with staff.
Planning minister Nick Boles said: “This Government is taking action to support healthy and vibrant local high streets.
“This is part of a wider set of measures designed to get empty and redundant buildings back into productive use, and make it easier for valued town centre businesses like shops, banks and cafés to open new premises.”