Controversial gambling venue’s licence to be reviewed

A Merkur Slots venue in North Finchley
A Merkur Slots venue in North Finchley (credit Google)

Move comes after thousands signed petition calling for review of Merkur Slots, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

A proposed Palmers Green gambling venue that ran into strong opposition from residents will have its licence reviewed.

The decision means residents and other interested parties can make their views heard on the licence for a Merkur Slots gaming centre in Green Lanes.

Local campaigners said most people were not aware of the original consultation on the licence due to the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. A petition against the venue subsequently gained more than 4,000 signatures.

Following the public outcry, council leader Nesil Caliskan wrote to the national licensing authority calling for a review.

Cllr Caliskan said: “Betting shops and other gambling venues are a blight on our town centres, and they cause great harm to individuals and to our communities. I strongly oppose them.

“That’s why I’ve been working with Palmers Green ward councillors, residents, and our local MP, to gather the required evidence to trigger a review in relation to this proposal.”

The leader said councils have “very limited powers” to stop these venues from opening and called on the government to amend the law.

“I also hope that the applicant takes note of the strong opposition and reconsiders their plans to open this venue,” she added.

People who want to express their opposition to the venue should provide details or evidence of how the application does not meet one or more of the licensing objectives. They should also include their name and address.

The licensing objectives are:

  • preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime;
  • ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way;
  • protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.

Residents can send in their views by emailing: [email protected]. The subject line of the email should read ‘Review of Merkur Slots Licence’, and they should set out their evidence beneath each of the objectives.

The consultation period ends on Tuesday 18th May and the review is expected to go before the licensing committee on Wednesday 16th June.

Shirley Rose, a Palmers Green resident and spokesperson for campaign group Game Over for Merkur, said: “We view this as an impressive victory for local democracy, which also gives a clear message to Merkur that they are not welcome in Palmers Green.

“We are aware that the next stage will not be an easy ride, but if Merkur’s claim made in their recent Barnet application is accurate, this will be the first review they have faced.”

In a statement, Merkur Slots said: “We will continue to engage with the review process.”