A new 24/7 adult gaming center could open on Bedford’s high street – if it gets a location permit.
But a councilor said the city center was already “overrun” with gambling houses when she spoke out against the plans.
Adult gambling (AGCs) are adult buildings that offer slot machines with higher payouts than family entertainment centers.
Speaking to the application, Councilor Lucy Bywater (Green, Castle) said the city center is “overrun” with gambling houses, and this cumulative impact is something that “we really can’t ignore”.
Councilor Bywater added that both Castle Ward councilors (Councilor Ben Foley, Green) have reported complaints from Mill Street residents about excessive noise, antisocial behavior and criminal activity related to the nighttime economy to the police and environmental health.
“There are even more problems than reported,” she said.
“They take it because they often tell us there’s no point in reporting, so the reporting numbers don’t reflect reality.
“I don’t accept that residents have to put up with these problems just because they live in the center.
“The cumulative impact of an additional 24/7 gambling venue could increase these problems and criminal activity by encouraging people to visit gambling venues after other licensed venues have closed.
“I really want to emphasize that openness between 10pm and 8am is the main concern for us as district councilors in terms of this permit.
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“These businesses are clearly very lucrative, but as district councilors we are really concerned that this prominent location would only have negative effects on the city center and its residents.
“And that is why I am asking the subcommittee not to grant this permit,” she said.
The applicant’s representative (Chongie Entertainment Limited) was Paddy Whur, a Woods Whur licensing attorney who responded to Councilor Bywater’s concerns.
He said that if there had been any real issues related to vulnerability and or crime and disorder, they would have been produced by the police, as the legal advisers for crime and disorder, or referred by Councilor Bywater to the other betting shops in the locality.
“And we haven’t gotten any evidence that any of those buildings have had any problems that Councilor Bywater said could happen,” he said.
“As for the hours aspect, it is my respectful submission to the committee that that really needs to be determined in light of the evidence that is here today.
“That it should be determined by your colleagues in scheduling and any statements made regarding opening hours in scheduling terms, as there is nothing in my submission to suggest why hours should be shortened under the Gaming Act.
“My last point is that section 153″ [of the Gambling Act 2005] asks you to strive for a license, and the gambling commission’s advice and your own policies only say where it’s needed if you require a license,” he said.
The committee’s decision will be posted on the council’s website within five working days of the hearing.