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Concerns over impact new adult gaming centre could have if approved

Utopia store on St Stephen's Street, Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Utopia store on St Stephen's Street, Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

Concerns have been raised over the impact an adult gaming centre could have on “vulnerable and desperate people” if it is granted a licence to operate.

A leisure company has made a premises licence application to open a venue on St Stephens Street in Norwich, complete with a tanning salon on the first floor.

Norwich City Council has already granted planning permission for the unit but objectors are calling on it to reject the licence, arguing it will “create problems of addiction very quickly”.

MORE: Bid to open adult gaming centre on Norwich shopping street

Luxury Leisure is the company behind the plans and wants to open the centre seven days a week in the space currently occupied by clothing store Utopia.

Martin Schmierer, leader of the Green group on Norwich city council, said he intends to object to the application due to the known consequences of gambling.

“I have long argued against the proliferation of the gambling industry in Norwich, which takes money and happiness out of our communities and gives nothing back in return,” he said. “These kinds of places prey on vulnerable and desperate people. The link between gambling and deprivation has been shown again and again.”

Adult gaming centres tend to consist of slot machines with higher prizes than those found in traditional arcades. Players can win a jackpot of £500 from a £2 stake on some machines.

The city already has similar venues with Cashino on Old Post Office Court and Spinners on Magdalen Street.

One woman, who has objected to the application but wants to remain anonymous, said the area does not need this kind of economy.

“It really creates a problem of addiction quite quickly and that is the intended consequence of it,” she said. “Prince of Wales Road and Riverside already have this kind of economy, it doesn’t need to spread to St Stephens.”

Charity Gamble Aware helps minimise gambling-related harm across the country.

Mark Etches, chief executive of the charity, said: “It is essential that all new gambling venues take their responsibilities seriously, going beyond simply complying with regulations, and truly caring for their customers.”

Luxury Leisure declined to comment on the application.

Members of the public have until October 2 to comment on the licensing application.

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