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Fears venues 24-hour adult gaming plan will turn neighbourhood into ‘Las Vegas of North West London’

An application for a new adult gaming licence in a North London neighbourhood has sparked anger amongst residents and councillors over fears it risks more people ‘spiralling into debt’ and worsening crime in the area.

Cricklewood in Brent is already home to four gambling venues, which are all in close proximity to each other. Residents feel that opening another in the area risks it becoming the ‘Las Vegas of North West London’.

Last year, Brent Council approved plans to convert the basement and ground floor of the four-storey former Barclay’s Bank building at the junction of Chichele Road and Cricklewood Broadway into a bingo hall. It came after a previous attempt to convert it into an adult gaming centre was dismissed by the council.

However, earlier this month (February 14) the applicant, Golden Slots Ltd, applied for a 24-hours adult gaming, as opposed to a Bingo licence with a 1am weekend finish that was outlined in the original application. This could mean the addition of slot machines, much to the anger of local residents. Some feel that this has been the applicant’s ‘plan all along’ and are urging the council to reject the latest attempt.

A resident on neighbourhood app Nextdoor said: “[…] their original application was for a slot machine space but was turned down by the council. Makes you think that this was their plan all along! With three betting shops, another slot machine hall, and a bingo hall within walking distance, these places do nothing but rob people of the little money they have and fuel gambling addiction.”

Another said: “This is not acceptable. Already Cricklewood has a fair share of betting [shops] and a bingo hall, not another one. No, No, No. What is the thinking behind residential areas which have already been saturated with bars, clubs, pubs and junk food outlets?”

Others highlighted the many people who have suffered at the hands of relatives or friends with gambling addictions and said the latest application risks Cricklewood becoming the ‘Las Vegas of North West London’.

There are already multiple gaming premises in the immediate vicinity, including three betting shops – Admiral Casino, Paddy Power, and William Hill – as well as a MERKUR Bingo just metres away from the proposed new site. Cricklewood councillors Tariq Dar and Gwen Grahl, are ‘gravely concerned’ if the licence is granted and fear it could lead to more antisocial behaviour in the area and make it more unsafe for children.

The two councillors have stated that they will ‘oppose all future gambling, betting shops, and slot machine places’ in the ward. They claim to have been ‘inundated’ by messages from residents who have ‘legitimate concerns’ about the possible impact the venue could have on community safety.

A joint statement by the councillors states: “There are seven schools nearby, which use the junction as route home. […] Gambling is an addictive habit which can be massively detrimental to mental health and wellbeing. We are [especially] concerned about gaming establishments, which often have insufficient safeguards in place and are particularly appealing to a younger audience.”

It adds: “Cricklewood now has one of the highest incidents of burglaries in London. […] Promoting gambling, which puts local residents at risk of spiralling debt may make this problem worse both by making more people likely to commit crime and by detracting resources away from household burglaries and towards antisocial behaviour associated with betting shops.”

A consultation on the plan is currently underway and will be on-going until March 12. Once complete, the application will then be reviewed by the council’s licensing team before a decision is made. Golden Slots Ltd could not be reached for comment.