Adult Gaming Centre in Palmers Green update

The consultation for the new adult gaming centre in Green Lanes has closed and the Council has now issued a licence for the premises.

This is disappointing news. On behalf of local residents, I lodged my objections to this licence application last month as I am extremely concerned about what another adult gaming centre will mean for our high street and for residents.

Following the licence being granted, the next stage of the process will be a planning application for the new Adult Gaming Centre premises. As soon as I am aware that the application has been lodged, I will alert constituents so that objections can be made.

However, we know that Local Authorities have very limited powers to refuse gambling premises licences.

Back in early 2021, Merkur Slots obtained permission to open a 24 hour Adult Gaming Centre in the heart of Palmers Green at 292/292a Green Lanes, N13 close to several existing betting shops. As many will remember, there was a huge local campaign objecting to these new premises, including a petition signed by over 4,700 people.

Bambos Charalambous MP at the Merkur Slots protest in 2021
School children joining the protest against Merkur Slots in Palmers Green in 2021

However, given the limited powers to refuse gambling premises licences, Enfield Council was unable to prevent these premises opening.

At that same time, the Government was undertaking a review of the Gambling Act 2005, and taking submissions until the end of March 2021.

I encouraged those who contacted me to respond to that Review and to raise the issue of enhanced powers for local licensing authorities when considering gambling premises licences, to enable them to take into account local factors, such as a clustering of gambling premises in the area. And to bring the licensing process into line with that for applications for premises selling alcohol.

Unfortunately, it took the Government over two years to respond to the Review, with its White Paper published on 27 April 2023:

In the meantime, and before any reforms to the system have been made, we now have yet another Adult Gaming Centre licence to contend with.

It is a testament to the local strength of feeling on this issue that the Gambling Act Review White Paper’s analysis of the submissions made acknowledged the participation of 98 Enfield residents in a “campaign that raised concerns about the opening of an Adult Gaming Centre in Enfield, stating that further powers were required for Local Authorities”. This amounted to 15% of responses that came from identifiable campaigns.

The White Paper states several times that the Government will introduce primary legislation to bring the licensing regime into line with that for alcohol by legislating to introduce a formal system of Cumulative Impact Assessments (CIAs) “when Parliamentary time allows.”

A Cumulative Impact Assessment would enable local licensing authorities to take into account local information, such as statistics on local crime and anti social behaviour, health and environmental health.

Whilst this would help in making an effective challenge to a gambling premises licence application, I am concerned by the vague commitment to introduce this legislation “when Parliamentary time allows”.

While the Government delays the introduction of legislation to reform gambling, our high streets remain at risk of even more gambling premises opening. Local businesses and residents are working to improve the local high street area and develop family friendly spaces, but their efforts are undermined by the continued growth in gambling premises in the area.

I have therefore written to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport asking her to commit to a timetable for the introduction of this legislation as soon as possible. You can read my letter in full below.

I have now received a response from DCMS. It says that the Government is committed to giving Local Authorities the powers they need to regulate gambling in their local areas, but we still don’t know when this legislation, which is so desperately needed, will be introduced.

Last updated 22.09.23