§ Sir John Wheeler
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to extend the evening opening hours of licensed betting offices.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
In October 1991, the Government issued a consultation document inviting the views of all interested parties on whether licensed betting offices should be open in the evening and, if so, at what times. Over 800 representations and a number of petitions have since been received. The views expressed fully reflected the arguments for and against evening opening. In the light of that consultation process, I have decided that evening opening should be allowed until 10 pm on Mondays to Saturdays between April and August inclusive.
Government policy on gambling is that there should be adequate properly regulated facilities available for those who wish to gamble. It is clear that the growth in the number of evening horseraces has created increased consumer demand for evening opening of licensed betting offices during the summer months. In those circumstances, the Government believe that there are no public interest or policy reasons to object to evening opening.
I know that many bookmakers, their staff and the greyhound racing industry are concerned about the effect which evening opening may have on them. I have taken account of those concerns and I believe that the approach now proposed achieves a sensible and reasonable balance between the various interests.
My decision is broadly in line with the recommendations of the Home Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons following its inquiries into the funding of horseracing and greyhound racing. However, as some horseraces are run after 9 pm and to allow time for payment of any winnings, I propose that the latest closing time should be 10 pm rather than the 9 pm recommended by the Committee. This will be a standard latest closing
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