Gamblers have spent £620m in betting shops across Brent

Ed Miliband with Clive Efford MP (left) Shadow DCMS Minister, and Tulip Sidiq (right) party candidat

Ed Miliband with Clive Efford MP (left) Shadow DCMS Minister, and Tulip Sidiq (right) party candidate for Kilburn & Hampstead, outside a William Hilll betting shop in Kilburn High Road (Pic credit: John Stillwell/PA) - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

Gamblers have spent more than £620m in betting shops across Brent – which has the second highest number of bookies and fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) in London, new research reveals.

Of that figure, more than £22m was spent on FOBTs, according to a study by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling (CFFG).

The group says the borough also has 16 payday lending stores – the 19th highest number in the country.

A CFFG spokesman said: “The implications for local communities in a borough blighted by betting and payday loan shops is a real social concern.”

According to the research, Brent has 96 bookmakers and 355 FOBTs – second only to Westminster in the capital.

In January, campaigners won a battle to stop an 11th betting shop from opening in High Road, Kilburn, when Brent Council rejected the planning application.

Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, in his visit to High Road, Kilburn, in December last year, pledged to amend planning and gambling laws to allow councils in England, Scotland and Wales to curb the spread of bookies and regulate FOBTs.

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The government has announced plans to give councils in England stronger powers to regulate bookmakers.

If approved, it would mean no more than four per cent of Brent’s town centres can be occupied by betting shops and no more than three per cent can be occupied by adult gaming centres, pawnbrokers or payday loan shops. The rule only applies where planning permission is required and does not grant councils the power to close existing outlets.

Supporting the proposals, Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of the council said: “Gambling firms often cynically target deprived communities, leeching off vulnerable people, fuelling addictions and other problems and adding to the difficulties of already hard-pressed families.

“They also sap the life from our high streets and squeeze out small and medium sized businesses which could be providing something positive.”