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Paddy Power hit out over planning changes

30 March 2015

PLANNING changes designed to give local councils more say over new betting shops opening announced on Wednesday have been criticised for being "anti-competitive and wholly unnecessary" by bookmakers Paddy Power.

The firm was reacting to the news that betting shops, along with payday lenders, have been put in their own planning classes under an order coming into effect on April 15. The changes are being introduced as part of a package of measures announced by the government last year which also included tighter regulation of gaming machines.

Paddy Power, who have been looking to expand their betting shop estate in the UK, have claimed the changes would only benefit the incumbent 'big four' betting shop chains of Betfred, Coral, Ladbrokes and William Hill.

Chief executive Andy McCue said: "The planning reforms are anti-competitive and wholly unnecessary. More than 200 betting shops have closed in the last 12 months and tough new measures to address concerns about fixed odds betting terminals are due to come in on April 6. There is no need to use the planning system to restrict consumer choice, a move which will only benefit the big four incumbents who control 90 per cent of the market."

The Local Government Association welcomed the changes. Councillor Izzi Seccombe said: "This is a step in the right direction, but councils need much greater local discretion to shape their high streets and help stimulate local economic growth."

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