A 24-hour gambling venue is set to open in Edgware after being granted a licence by councillors.

Little Vegas, an adult gaming centre where people will be able to gamble on slot machines, will be allowed to open in 214 Station Road.

Barnet Council’s licensing subcommittee agreed to grant a premises licence to operator Chongie Entertainment during a meeting on Monday (July 31).

Licensing officer Elizabeth Hammond told the meeting that the police were “satisfied” that a risk assessment drawn up by the applicant “covered the areas of concern to them”.

She listed several conditions that would be put in place to protect residents, including a requirement for notices to be displayed stating that no-one under the age of 18 would be admitted and alcohol consumption would not be allowed.

But Edgware ward councillor Shuey Gordon urged the committee to reject the application, citing academic research stating that betting shops are linked to increases in crime and antisocial behaviour.

Cllr Gordon pointed out that there are already three other gambling venues in the area, which he said had been identified by the Metropolitan Police as a crime hotspot.

He added that children and vulnerable adults might try to access the venue and suggested it was not appropriate for a suburban area like Edgware, which is home to a large number of families.

Paddy Whur, a solicitor acting on behalf of the applicant, said that there were “significant differences” between adult gaming centres and betting shops in terms of the way they trade and their customer base, and it was “not fair to lump them together”.

He added: “We have never had any issues with any of our premises in relation to crime and disorder or vulnerability of children.”

Under questioning from councillors, Whur said that the police were satisfied there would be no crime issues because of the “control mechanisms” they had agreed to put in place. He offered to work with Cllr Gordon to address his concerns over the venue.

Joanne Craig, compliance consultant for Chongie Entertainment, said 80% of the machines in the venue would accept £1 stakes and offer prizes up to £100, while the rest would have £2 stakes with prizes of up to £200.

She added that staff were stationed at the door of their gaming centres at particular times to stop children from entering, and magnetic locks could also be switched on to prevent access.

The applicant’s team pointed out that CCTV cameras would also be in operation, and staff would be trained to ask for identification if a customer looked under 25.

Whur pointed out that under the Gambling Act, licensing authorities have an “aim to permit” applications and said there would need to be “a significant level of worry exhibited by evidence before you refuse an application”.

He added: “We would respectfully suggest that threshold has not been reached in this application, and therefore the licence should be granted.”

Following a short period of private discussion, committee chair Richard Barnes announced that members had agreed to grant the licence.

  • In a separate decision in June this year, Barnet Council refused planning permission to convert the fish and chip shop at 214 Station Road into a gambling venue.

Town hall planning chiefs said using the site as a 24-hour adult gaming centre would have a “detrimental impact on the vitality and viability of the shopping parade” and “create an overconcentration of gambling/betting shop type premises” in the area.

They added that it would increase noise levels and “facilitate crime in an area already suffering with high levels of antisocial behaviour, crime and disorder”.

Officers made no mention of the previous planning refusal during the licensing subcommittee meeting on 31st July. Planning and licensing are dealt with separately, and the council subsequently said the committee would not have been able to take the refusal into account while determining the licence application.

Chongie Entertainment could appeal to the government’s Planning Inspectorate to try to overturn the decision to refuse permission.