A plan for a gambling venue close to three schools in one of London’s most deprived areas has been condemned by health chiefs.
Haringey Council’s public health team warned against opening an adult gaming centre in 513 Green Lanes, Harringay, raising concerns over the appeal of gaming machines to young people and what they claimed was the “deliberate proximity” of the venues to schools.
Luxury Leisure, which wants to open the venue under the ‘Admiral’ brand, defended its plans during a meeting of the licensing subcommittee on Wednesday, July 28, insisting it had complied with gambling law and put safeguards in place to protect youngsters.
But health chiefs and other opponents were unconvinced by the arguments and continued to warn over the impact on children. The proposed gaming centre is also close to a nursery, children’s centre and four existing gambling venues.
Speaking on behalf of the applicant, Stephen Walsh QC told the meeting that Luxury Leisure operated a ‘Think 25’ policy – which involves challenging those believed to be under 25 to show ID – and pointed out that those under the age of 18 were not allowed on the premises.
He added that the company had created an app designed to allow people to monitor and limit their use of gaming centres. The Metropolitan Police had withdrawn their objection after the applicant agreed to its conditions and the venue’s proposed opening hours had been reduced from 24 hours a day to 14 hours, from 9am to 11pm.
Mr Walsh said the company was “familiar with and respects” concerns around the impact of gambling on vulnerable people “and that is why it takes the responsible attitude that it does”.
But Marlene D’Aguilar, public health officer for the council, said that even though Luxury Leisure had added conditions to the application “we do object to another adult gaming centre coming into that area”.
She explained: “We think there is an overconcentration of gambling venues, and it has a negative effect on the health and wellbeing of residents – but particularly the vulnerable communities.”
Ms D’Aguilar pointed to local research carried out by the council in Tottenham, which revealed children were aware of the presence of gambling venues in the area.
In response, Mr Walsh said the opening time of 9am had been agreed to take account of school opening times and added that children could not be targeted by advertising under gambling law.
But Ms D’Aguilar said the director of public health had a responsibility to reduce inequality. She pointed out that the Haringey borough plan says children should have the opportunity to have the best start in life, so that when they reach the age of 20 they have the same opportunities as the most privileged in the country.
“That cannot happen when in the most privileged areas you do not get the level of gambling premises as we are having in the poorest areas and some of the areas that have become worse over time,” she said. “They are not going to have the same level of privilege.”
Cllr Zena Brabazon, ward councillor for Harringay, also objected to the gambling venue during the meeting and seconded Ms D’Aguilar’s comments.
The licensing subcommittee will issue its decision on the application by Luxury Leisure within five working days of the meeting.